Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do—whether you’re overweight and haven’t exercised for years or a regular gym bunny who swims like a fish.
It’s good for you because pulling your muscles through water resistance improves your muscle tone, endurance, cardiovascular system, flexibility—and it might even save your life one day.
Let’s dive into the benefits of regular swimming.
1. It’s Good for Your Heart
Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular workout.
Raising your heart rate is one of the best ways to strengthen your heart and blood vessels. A strong cardiovascular system protects against common modern-day diseases such as stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
2. It Improves Your Sleep
Research shows that swimming can prevent and curb insomnia.
If you struggle to sleep at night, going for a regular swim can relax your brain and muscles so you fall asleep easily and quickly. The repetitive motions and endorphin hormone release are top insomnia busters.
3. It’s a Full-Body Workout
As well as providing great cardio strength, swimming is one of the few exercises that provides a full-body workout.
Swimming strokes are varied, but they involve all your limbs, your muscles, and your core body strength. Each body part is used constantly, and the effort of propelling your body through water is nonstop. This gives you a full workout and saves time, keeping you from juggling gym classes that aim to boost only one area of health.
4. Swimming Reduces Stress
Swimming is proven to reduce stress levels and anxiety.
All exercise releases feel-good endorphins that fight stress, but swimming goes a step further by forcing you into a relaxing deep breathing pattern. Deep breathing is an effective way to manage stress and reduce blood pressure.
Swimming is also a social activity. Swimming side by side with a friend is a fun way to encourage one another and support each other’s fitness goals. Companionship is an excellent way to ensure that you exercise regularly. It’s not so easy to skip a session if you’re worried about letting someone down.
5. It Burns Lots of Calories
Swimming is an intensive and consistent exercise. Whether you pound out a butterfly or take a more sedate breaststroke, swimming burns plenty of fat.
A simple breaststroke can melt off 200 calories in half an hour, which is double the amount you’d burn off on a brisk walk.
6. Great for Asthma
Asthma is a common and dangerous condition that can be brought on—or worsened—by exercise. However, exercise is essential for asthma sufferers, as they need to build strong lungs. Swimming can improve lung function, fitness, and— also important—build self-confidence in a safe way.
Swimming is a great way for asthmatics to exercise, because the humid conditions of a pool keep airways warm—unlike running, for example, which forces airways to release chemicals that create bronchospasms.
RELATED: Asthma Cure Right Around the Corner
7. Water Supports Joints and Prevents Impact
Water supports 90% of your body weight. If you have an injury or long-term chronic disease, the pool supports your weight and slows down impact shocks.
Exercising often involves pounding your joints against a surface, which can be especially painful on conditions like arthritis, back pain, or injuries. Water absorbs impact, providing a gentler form of all-over exercise that doesn’t provoke or worsen inflammation.
8. It Boosts Energy Levels
The fitter you are, the more efficient your circulation becomes—and better blood flow means you feel more energetic.
Exercise also releases the endorphins that promote stress relief, and this, in turn, boosts your energy levels.
Swimming is easy and it works your whole body, so you get a beneficial energy boost every time you hit the pool. Just 30 minutes three times a week is enough to make you feel more energetic.
9. It Increases Flexibility
Yoga has the deserved reputation as a “flexibility” exercise, but swimming can help loosen your muscles, too.
As you pull through water, your muscles gain tone, and the range of swimming motions stretches them out. Then, in order to go forward or backward, you have to elongate your form. Long, lean muscles are more flexible than short muscles gained from weightlifting.
10. It’ll Make You Better at Other Sports
Swimming promotes cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, endurance, and strength in a safe way no other sport can compete with. Low-impact swimming provides a foundation level of exercise that boosts all your body’s abilities in and out of the pool.
If you swim regularly, you’ll notice an ability to partake in other sports like fitness classes, running, and yoga much more easily.
11. It’s Difficult to Injure Yourself
Swimming is a low-impact sport. Your joints are supported by the water and there’s no twisting, turning, or physical contact with others—this makes it safer than land-based activities and team sports.
Pregnant women, those with long-term health conditions, and people recovering from injuries find that swimming keeps them from doing more harm while strengthening bones and joints against future injuries.
For Good Health—Just Add Water
Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises for physical and mental health.
It strengthens muscles, stretches them out, boosts your cardiovascular ability, keeps you safe from injury, and benefits your mental health, but perhaps the top benefit of swimming is that anyone can do it—it’s not something that’s only achievable by top athletes.
If you have a long-term health condition or are simply out of shape, then swimming can improve your well-being in a gentle way that encourages you to keep going.
And to top it off, swimming is one of the lowest-cost gym activities around, so you won’t have to splash the cash to feel healthier and happier.