Of all the sports that people in the United States participate in, swimming is one of the most popular options.
Whether you’re just getting started with exercise or are looking to shake up your routine, swimming comes with a number of physical and mental health benefits. Read on to learn more about how swimming can make you a healthier, happier individual.
1. Total-Body Resistance Training
If you are looking for a form of exercise that can help strengthen all your major muscle groups, swimming is the way to go.
Water is much denser than air, so it provides plenty of resistance to improve strength. Because there are so many different kinds of strokes (breaststroke, sidestroke, butterfly, backstroke, etc.) it’s also easy to work every muscle group while you swim.
Swimming even helps you train the muscles in the core (abdominals, glutes, low back) since you have to keep them engaged if you want to stay level in the water.
2. Low-Impact Cardio
Many forms of cardio are hard on the joints or are inaccessible to people with injuries. Swimming, though, is safe for almost everyone since the water provides plenty of resistance but doesn’t stress the joints.
The list of people who can benefit from making swimming their primary form of exercise includes:
3. Affordable Fitness
Initially, swimming might not seem like a very affordable form of exercise. However, many pools actually offer reasonable rates that make swimming a better option than joining a regular gym or going to an expensive fitness studio.
Some pools even offer a sliding fee scale based on your income so you only have to pay what you can afford. They may also have certain hours scheduled when you can swim for free or at a discounted rate.
You also don’t need a lot of equipment to take up swimming. A bathing suit that will stay in place while you move and a pair of goggles is really all you need.
Most pools and gyms have additional equipment like kickboards and weights available if you want to use them, but there is no need to buy your own if you can’t afford it.
4. Relieves Stress
All forms of exercise produce endorphins which can relieve stress and improve your mood. However, swimming is particularly beneficial when it comes to relieving symptoms of chronic stress.
One study found that, when you’re submerged in water, your senses are dulled. This brings about a calm, centered feeling that will work wonders for combating stress and anxiety.
The effects of water submersion on stress explain why soaking in a bathtub or flotation tank can be so effective. Why not head to your local pool to try and reap those same benefits while also getting some exercise?
5. Improves Internal Health
Swimming isn’t just good for the muscles — it has also been shown to bring about a number of positive changes in the body’s internal systems. For example, swimming regularly can decrease your risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease.
Swimming can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and resting heart rate. Low-volume, high-intensity swimming also lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity.
Swimming can also cut your risk of death in half! One study found that those who swim had a lower mortality rate than sedentary individuals, as well as those who walk or run regularly.
It’s not totally clear why swimmers are more likely to live longer than walkers or runners, but researchers believe the overall health benefits (lower blood pressure, blood sugar, resting heart rate, etc.) of swimming make it a better option for those who are focused on longevity.
They also believe that swimming can decrease someone’s mortality rate because it’s an activity that’s safe for people of all ages and abilities.
If you want to be stronger, healthier, happier, and live longer, swimming is a great form of exercise to add to your workout routine. Head to your local pool today to start experiencing all these great physical and mental benefits!