I live in Arizona and I have a pool in my backyard. These are two blessings that I am thankful for on a regular basis. As April rolls around, while much of the United States is still hoping for their snow to melt, I am checking my pool temperature to see if it’s warm enough for me to jump in and swim my laps. When the water temp isn’t warm enough, I choose biking as my other exercise but I absolutely cannot wait until I can dive into the pool! Yes, there are indoor pools at the YMCA or at the gym, but I love swimming in the outdoors. I feel closer to nature, able to think more clearly, lighter than air. As I try to explain why I love swimming so much I ran across the actual health benefits of swimming spelled out and thought I’d share that information. This information embodies why swimming is my exercise of choice!
Swimming offers something no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work your body without harsh impact to your skeletal system. When the body is submerged in water, it automatically becomes lighter. With water all the way to the neck, you only have to bear 10 percent of your own weight. The other 90 percent is handled by the pool. This means that the pool provides an ideal place to work stiff muscles and sore joints, especially if you’re overweight or suffer from arthritis.
Swimming is a great way to increase muscular strength and muscle tone. A swimmer is propelling herself through water — a substance about twelve times as dense as air so every kick and every arm stroke becomes a resistance exercise. It’s well known that resistance exercises are the best way to build muscle tone and strength. Swimming has also been shown to improve bone strength — especially in post-menopausal women.
Swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible.
Since swimming is an aerobic exercise, it serves to strengthen the heart, not only helping it to become larger, but making it more efficient in pumping. This leads to better blood flow throughout your body. Research also shows that aerobic exercise can combat the body’s inflammatory response. The American Heart Association reports that just 30 minutes of exercise per day, such as swimming, can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40 percent.
Swimming is now recognized as one of the biggest calorie burners around, and it’s great for keeping weight under control. Depending on the stroke and intensity of your swimming, you can burn from 60-150 calories in each 10-minutes of swimming. In addition, your overall cholesterol health will improve as well.
Improved lung capacity is another benefit of swimming thus helping asthma sufferers. Even those without asthma could benefit from swimming as the exercise can increase lung volume and teach proper breathing techniques.
Aerobic exercise, like swimming, is a great way to ward off diabetes. Staying active and eating a healthy diet are extremely helpful in keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy place.
William Wilson wrote in the 1883 book, “The Swimming Instructor”: “the experienced swimmer, when in the water, may be classed among the happiest of mortals in the happiest of moods, and in the most complete enjoyment of the happiest of exercises” likely due to the release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins — one of swimming’s most pleasant side effects. This is due in large part to the constant stretching and relaxing of your muscles combined with deep rhythmic breathing. Swimming is also a meditative exercise, with the sound of your own breathing and the splash of the water acting as a mantra of sorts that can help you “drown out” all other distractions.
Swimming: my favorite exercise and a scientifically proven form of exercise beneficial for everyone!