Low impact sport: Without the ground impact and your body being mostly buoyant, swimming's a great way to stay fit while relieving your joints from stress and strain. Water aerobics are also beneficial as there is less force when you’re jumping. In fact, many injured athletes are often told to swim to maintain their fitness level because the water resistance helps build and maintain their muscle without the strain or impact. This also means that swimming is a sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime, something that can’t be said for running or strength training.
* Cool fact: there are tons of swim competitions with a range of age categories including 100-104 year old age groups! (http://www.usms.org/)
Healthy Heart: Swimming helps build your endurance levels and a healthier heart - in turn making you a better runner and athlete and player in other sports! Oxygen consumption has been shown to greatly improve in regular swimmers. In a study of middle aged adults who swam for 12 weeks, the amount of blood pumped with each beat – also known as your stroke volume – was seen to improve as much as 18%.
Increased muscle tone and strength: Swimmers propel themselves through water, which is about 784 times more dense than air - meaning that every stroke and kick becomes a resistance exercise – the best way to build lean muscle tone. Plus, an hour of swimming can burn around 500 calories! 700 if you’re swimming vigorously.
Improved flexibility:The body goes through a range of motions when swimming. Your arms move in wide arcs, legs scissor through the water and your head and spine twist from side to side, helping your joints stay loose and flexible. With every forward stroke, your body lengthens giving you a complete head to toe stretch. Swimming really is the ultimate form of exercise! Don't forget to always stretch before and after swimming too.
Reduces stress: tons of feel good chemicals otherwise known as endorphins, are released during swimming. The constant stretching and relaxing of your muscles in addition to the rhythmic breathing makes swimming a meditative exercise that creates a relaxing response similar to yoga. Research has also shown that swimming can actually change your brain for the better through hippocampal neurogenesis – a process where the brain replaces cells lost through stress. Being submerged in water helps bring a feeling of calm, dulling your sensory information. Looks like getting into the pool is the perfect way to unwind.
- Improve asthma – Trying to catch your breath when exercising can be frustrating, however unlike other workouts in gyms and outdoors, swimming helps alleviate your asthma symptoms and your overall lung condition because it allows you to breathe moist air. People who don’t have asthma also benefit from overall lung volume as swimming teaches good breathing techniques.
Opens the door to adventure– (my favorite benefit!) Ever dream of cliff jumping? Snorkeling in the ocean? Learning how to swim well will allow you to tick off all these amazing experiences. Swimming is a lifelong skill that can allow you try new things.
These are only some of the great physical and mental benefits of swimming! One of the best things about swimming being a lifelong activity, is that you can share it with your friends and family of all ages. It's a great sport that makes you younger, healthier and happier, so...just keep swimming!