Many experts often suggest swimming as an ideal form of exercise, especially for people who wish to get in shape, become fitter and stronger, improve their mood, and/or achieve overall better health.
Swimming is no doubt a great exercise, regardless of your age or fitness level. Moreover, it has tons of benefits that can help you become a stronger, fitter, and healthier person. Below, we discuss these health benefits of swimming.
1. Swimming engages your entire body
You may think that you are using only your arms and legs when you jump into the pool and swim, when in fact, you are engaging your entire body. In other words, swimming is a full-body workout that not only works your arms and legs, but also engages your core, tones your muscles, builds strength and endurance, and also increases your heart rate.
It is one of the few exercises that engage all your muscle groups. You use your leg muscles to kick, while the stomach tightens so that it can deliver more power to the legs. Meanwhile, you use the arms to kick and move forward, and while the back muscles reach and rotate.
2. Swimming can improve flexibility
If you want to work on your flexibility, swimming is the perfect exercise for that. Think about it. It is an intense activity that involves reaching, twisting, stretching, and pulling, all while pushing yourself forward against the force of the water. Such repetitive movements can help in improving your flexibility.
3. Swimming burns lots of calories
Swimming is one of the best ways to burn calories. In fact, it is just as effective as running on the treadmill. To put things into perspective, here are some numbers you should consider.
If you weigh 160 pounds, you are likely to burn roughly 423 calories per hour by swimming at a low or moderate pace, and if you swim vigorously, you can burn as much as 715 calories per hour.
Besides the intensity, another factor that affects how many calories you burn while swimming is the kind of stroke you use. For instance, the butterfly stroke burns more calories than breaststroke.
4. Swimming is a great way to destress
Have you heard of runner’s high? It’s the rush of endorphins that goes to your brain that makes you feel good when you are running in the park or on the treadmill. Swimming has the same effect on your brain. It releases these feel-good hormones to your brain because your body is engaged in such an intense physical activity.
Not only this, but swimming can also induce a relaxation response, much like meditation or yoga. The deep and rhythmic breathing involved, combined with the sound of rushing water has a calming effect on your mind, helping you relax and let go of stress.
5. Swimming helps you sleep better
Since swimming is such a vigorous physical activity, your body feels tired after swimming several laps. It uses up your energy and this exhaustion can help you get better sleep at night.
A study that was conducted among older adults who struggle with insomnia supports this. Participants of the study reported that they experienced better sleep as well as an improvement in their quality of life after engaging in aerobic exercise.
6. Swimming may help with asthma and improve lung health
You may think that an exercise that is carried out in a water body may not be ideal for people who have trouble breathing, but swimming is actually a great exercise for those with asthma. In fact, according to the findings of a 2012 study, swimmers have the better lung capacity and better breath control compared to runners.
This may be attributed to the moist air that you breathe in while swimming, as opposed to the dry, polluted air you breathe in when working out in a gym or outside. Besides, breathing exercises that come along with swimming, such as holding your breath, may help in increasing control over your breathing and expanding lung capacity.
7. Swimming can help improve memory and cognitive abilities
Swimming is great not just for your physical health, but for your mental health too. In addition to helping you relax and destress, swimming can help in improving your memory and cognitive abilities. This is because regular exercise can help in reducing inflammation and lowering the brain’s resistance to insulin, which, in turn, encourages and promotes new brain cell growth.
8. Swimming can regulate blood sugar levels
If you are looking for an exercise that can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check, then swimming might just be it. According to a 2016 study, it was found that people who engage in vigorous swimming three times a week had higher insulin sensitivity and more balanced blood sugar levels. This can help lower your risk of diabetes.
9. Swimming may lower risks of heart disease
Another huge benefit of swimming is that it may be able to lower your risk of heart disease. A study found that people who swim regularly have lower blood pressure, lower weight, increased blood flow to the brain and decreased stiffness of the carotid artery. Carotid arterial stiffness is a condition where the walls of the heart become stiff, increasing your chances of developing heart diseases.
10. Swimming is great for pregnant women
Staying active during pregnancy is important for the health of both the baby and the mother, and swimming is a great exercise for that. In fact, it is one of the safest and most effective exercises you can do while you are pregnant.
One study found that pregnant women who swim have a lower chance of delivering their baby pre-term. Also, if you are wondering about swimming in a chlorinated pool while bringing pregnant, put your worries aside because, according to the same study, chlorine in pools does not have any adverse effects on pregnancy.
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So, what are you waiting for? Get your swimsuits ready and jump into the pool today!