15 Amazing Health Benefits of Swimming
The Health benefits of swimming are countless. Exercise is any bodily activity that consists of structured, synchronized and repetitive movements of the different parts of the body to sustain physical health and mental wellbeing.
It includes gentle activities from jogging, dancing and lifting light weights, to strenuous activities like marathon running and swimming. The wonders exercise does for our physical and mental health are numerous and indispensable (1).
Swimming is an individual or team sport in which one can move through the water by the coordinated movement of the limbs, the body or both. It is considered to be one of the most effective full-body workouts and is also a recreational or leisurely activity. Competitive swimming is highly popular and there are various swimming strokes such as Freestyle, Backstroke, Butterfly Stroke, Breast Stroke and Side Stroke (2).
Swimming owes its popularity to the various health benefits it guarantees and its role in physical and mental development. In this post, we have shared the Health Benefits of Swimming.
Health Benefits of Swimming
1. Full Body Workout
Swimming targets your major muscle groups more than any other cardio exercise. It works the legs, shoulders, arms and the core. As water is as much as 800 times denser than air, swimming provides a moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise that strengthens your core and increases lung capacity. The heavy resistance water provides means that more muscle fibers are engaged, and you are losing more calories in a shorter period of time. (3)
Different strokes emphasize different muscles; freestyle concentrates on the leg muscles, butterfly stroke targets the abdominal and leg muscles. Backstroke works the triceps and leg muscles and breaststroke strengthens and tones the biceps and thigh muscles. Swimming, when adopted as daily exercise, guarantees a well-sculpted and toned body. Skipping is another full-body workout that has many health benefits.
2. Helps in Increasing Height
Outdoor activities like basketball and swimming are considered to be helpful for people wanting to gain a few extra inches in height even after a person has reached puberty. It helps lengthen the spine and broaden the chest and shoulders. Swimming increases the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) produced by the pituitary gland that promotes growth. (4) (5)
Though height is mostly genetically predetermined, proper and nutritious diet coupled with exercise such as swimming can help in increasing height.
3. Weight Loss
The deadly combination of burning calories along with muscle engagement makes swimming one of the most sort after exercises when it comes to losing bodyweight. It is an effective full-body workout targeting your shoulders, chest, hips thighs and glutes. (6) (7)
A light swim can help burn up to 500 calories an hour and a slightly moderate to heavy attempt can burn 700-750 calories an hour. Swimming helps increase your metabolic rate and keep your weight in control. Even after swimming, you burn calories the body requires energy to rebuild muscles.
Butterfly stroke features on the top of the list as the best style one can adopt in order to lose weight and tone muscles, as it targets almost all the muscle groups. It is needless to say that no amount of exercise will be helpful if your dietary habits are unhealthy. (8)(9)
Avoid fatty and carbohydrate-rich food if your motive is to lose weight. Eat a balanced diet. If you are aiming for a lean and mean look, swimming is the right choice for you.
4. Stress Buster
Swimming is not only a vigorous cardiovascular exercise but for people of all age groups, a relaxing and mood uplifting recreational and leisure activity. For many people, it is a means of unwinding after a long stressed filled day at work.
It is a ‘feel-good’ exercise that refreshes your mind and many people who enjoy swimming say that it helps them forget their problems for a while and feel good about themselves. Swimming helps in the growth of new nerve cells, releases endorphins and serotonin which are natural feel-good compounds that help influence the brain’s response to anxiety and depression. (10) (11)
Sometimes the best way to eliminate a problem is to forget about it, and swimming helps in doing just that. You need a lot of coordination and concentration while swimming so that you don’t drown or injure yourself; this means that your mind is focussed on something else than the problems and strains you are experiencing.
5. Cools Body Temperature
Water is a better conductor of heat than air. Swimming increases heat loss through the skin, as leg and arm movement causes the body temperature to rise and the thermal variation of the body and water increases.
Swimming in warm water at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit increases the speed of swimming but you get exhausted much faster than when compared to swimming in the cooler water, which also helps you swim for longer without any fatigue-related exhaustion.
This is because the body is better adjusted to colder temperatures than warm water. Swimming in cold water, however, can lead to hypothermia and shivering. Ideally, the more intense the aerobic activity, the lower the water temperature should be. Swimming allows you to release toxins out of your body naturally through sweat.
6. Good for Joint Pain
Exercise is important for people who suffer from joint pain especially arthritis. Contrary to popular belief, arthritis is not only an old people problem but it is now equally found among young people. The thought of exercising may seem taxing for those who suffer joint pains but as a matter of fact, swimming is the best option for them as the buoyancy of water supports body weight and reduces the stress on painful joints. (12)
It increases bone strength and flexibility and reduces joint pain and stiffness. For people who do not know how to swim, aquatic walking also provides equally effective results to soothe joint or Knee Pain. Normal walking on a flat surface also helps you burn calories and maintain healthy weight.
7. Beneficial in Asthma
It is said that breathing the warm moist air while swimming indoors rather than the cold dry air outdoors is beneficial for asthma patients. Swimmers use oxygen-deprived training to increase their tolerance for oxygen deprivation.
Controlled breathing during swimming helps increase lung capacity and lungs’ ability to perform its functions better. However, note that the chlorine added to the swimming pool water may cause breathing problems to asthma patients and swim in chlorine-free or outdoor pools may be a better alternative.
Here is a very informative video from TheSeriousFitness
8. Improves Sleep
More and more people nowadays complain of insomnia or the inability to get a proper undisturbed sleep. This is particularly dangerous for one’s health as sleep is necessary for our bodily organs and mind to function efficiently.
It is seen that people who are undergoing stress or depression find it difficult to sleep, swimming can help this as the feel-good endorphins released while swimming help combat anxiety and depression and keeps the mind relaxed and stress-free, aiding proper sleep. A long tiring day results into a sound sleep. Swimming works for all the major muscle groups and helps in burning calories. The more energy you use, the more tired you will be and the better you will sleep.
9. Good Mood
A popular recreational activity among the young and the old, swimming is an excellent mood uplifter. Apart from competitive swimming, people just like to spend their free time in the pool with their family and friends or even alone, away from the stress and strains of their work life.
The feel-good endorphins released during swimming helps the brain respond to depression and anxiety better. Swimming is extremely meditative and therapeutic as it allows oxygen to enter your muscles and it forces you to control your own breathing. It improves the functioning of the brain as it replaces the brain cells that were lost due to stress.
10. Blood Circulation
Swimming plays an important role in improving blood circulation. The bloodstream transports oxygen and nutrients to the heart, brain lungs and other vital organs of the body. When this circulation is reduced it leads to various diseases and strokes. Swimming positively affects the blood circulation as a swimmer’s heart pumps more blood to the muscles with every beat. It also encourages blood pressure to remain under control by making the blood vessels flexible and elastic.
Swimming improves blood circulation in the legs as the slight pressure helps the veins push back the blood to the heart efficiently. It also helps your heartbeat slower at rest or during exercise.
11. Good for Heart
If you are looking for an exercise that takes care of your heart, swimming is the best choice. It is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that also keeps your cholesterol levels in check. It strengthens the heart, improves its pumping resulting in better circulation of blood throughout the body.
Swimming brings down the blood pressure naturally and reduces heart-related diseases. Research shows that half an hour worth swimming can decrease the risk of coronary heart disease in women by 30-40 percent. Swimming boosts your metabolism rate which keeps bad cholesterol level slow, raises good cholesterol level and keeps weight in check which eventually reduces heart-related problems.
12. Improves Stamina
Swimming helps improve your stamina as controlled breathing increases lung capacity and betters lung performance. Swimmers use hypoxic or oxygen-deprived training to improve their tolerance for oxygen deprivation and in turn, increasing lung capacity and swimmers. Swimmers increase their lung capacity by altering their breathing patterns.
13. Tones Muscles
Swimming is an excellent exercise to enhance muscular strength and muscle tone. Swimming works and engages every muscle group in your body such as the shoulders, arms, chest, hips, lower back, glutes, and thighs. As water is twelve times denser than air; each stroke by a swimmer becomes a resistance exercise, which is extremely good for building muscle endurance and toning muscle.
Each of the various strokes specializes in and targets a particular or different muscle group together, hence using different strokes will help in toning muscles much faster than land-based exercises.
14. Improves Concentration
The rhythmic and synchronized nature of swimming helps in increasing focus and concentration. It helps keep the mind fresh, alert and energized. The feel-good endorphins released during swimming help the brain deal with anxiety and stress better.
When we are in the water, we have to concentrate wholly on controlling our own breathing and hand and leg coordination and shut off all other secondary static thoughts and concerns, this helps develop focus and concentration.
15. Helps in Slowing Down Aging
Swimming is an activity that accommodates people from different walks of life and members of different age groups. Not only does swimming tone your muscles, improve your blood circulation and aids in weight loss, it also helps in slowing down the aging process.
It boosts endorphins that increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing. It protects you from many heart and weight-related diseases and strengthens your immunity system. Swimming makes you feel refreshed energized and stress-free which automatically makes you feel younger. Also, don’t forget to include anti-oxidant rich foods in your diet.
Precautions to Be Taken While Swimming
- It goes without saying that one must venture into the swimming pool only when they know how to swim wearing the correct swimming attire and headgear.
- Wear swimming goggles to protect sensitive eyes from the harmful effects of chlorine.
- If you are planning to swim on the beach, or in a public swimming pool, do not swim unless a lifeguard is on duty as he must be well trained to handle emergency situations.
- Do not venture into the water during a thunderstorm or overall bad weather.
- It is better to swim under adult supervision if you are a minor and along with a friend if you are an adult.