6 Health Benefits of Swimming

man wearing goggles rest at the edge of a pool

Man swimming | Source: iStock

You might be a die-hard runner or a complete gym fanatic, but everyone can benefit from switching things up a bit. Not only will varying your workout keep you from getting bored, but if you do the same exercise routine day in and day out, your body will adapt, making it less challenging and less effective. This is where swimming comes into play. Don’t be fooled by the way seasoned swimmers seem to glide effortlessly through the water. You may be in top-notch shape, but after a single lap you may find yourself clinging to the edge of the pool, gasping for air. Swimming works your muscles in different ways and has an entirely different feel to it than any land exercise you’re used to doing. The transition to the pool may be difficult at first, but the benefits of swimming are numerous. Here’s what you need to know.

1. It tones muscles

Most people turn to dumbbells when they want to tone up, but the real secret may lie in your local pool. Water is 12 times as dense as air, so as you swim, you’re actually fighting water resistance, which has a similar effect on the body as using light weights on a resistance machine at the gym. Plus, since you’re completely immersed in the water, you’re entire body will benefit from the resistance and you won’t have to worry about counting or equalizing repetitions.

2. It’s easy on your joints

Swimming is gentle on your body making it the best way to stay fit if you’re recovering from an injury and want to build up your strength. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis or suffer from knee or hip pain, you’ll want to avoid high impact exercises like running and stick to the pool. Plus, since swimming is notably easier on your body you can swim at a higher intensity, for longer, and more often, without feeling the wear and tear on your body that you’ll notice if you repeatedly push your body at the gym or on the trails.

3. It builds a slim physique

While lifting weights shortens your muscles and tends to make you thick and stalky, swimming puts your body through a range of movements that makes your muscles long and flexible. Want that long and lean swimmer’s body? Every time you hit the pool you’re getting your fill of both cardio and resistance training, which leads to lean muscle build and a boost in your metabolism.

4. It’s great for your lungs

man swimming butterfly stroke in a pool

Butterfly stroke | Source: iStock

When you’re underwater your body adapts to use oxygen more efficiently. It takes in more fresh air with every breath and gets rid of more carbon dioxide with every exhalation. When your body learns to breathe more efficiently you’ll enjoy a lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. For those with exercise-induced asthma, running allows you to workout in moist air, which reduces asthma symptoms.

5. It improves your flexibility

Forget yoga, a heated pool relaxes your muscles and increases flexibility. It works wonders when paired with lactic-acid building endurance workouts like running, biking, or lifting weights by flushing out toxins and preventing muscle tightness and soreness the next day.

6. It turns back the clock

One study done at Indiana University found that regular swimmers are biologically 20 years younger than their actual age. It sounds impressive and it is. Swimming affects your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, central nervous system health, cardiovascular performance, cognitive functioning, muscle mass, and blood chemistry.

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