Swimming has several potential health advantages, regardless of fitness level.
If you’ve experienced overuse problems to your knees, hips, or ankles from other high-impact sports (like tennis or jogging), I might have advised you to try swimming. However, the University of Otago in New Zealand’s James Cotter, Ph.D., professor of exercise and environmental physiology, believes swimming is a fantastic choice for persons with joint difficulties and offers another type of exercise for everyone with access to sufficient water.
The benefits begin when you leap into the pool and continue long after you get out.
Andrew Power, a water well-being expert at Swim England, the United Kingdom’s national swimming governing body, states, “the peculiar qualities of water provide rapid bodily advantages, such as pain reduction.” (In previous jobs, he produced health programs, primarily for persons with long-term health concerns, for Swim England.) In addition, long-term advantages to mental health have been established by research, including potentially lowering the risk of premature mortality, promoting healthy aging, and providing persons who find it hard to be active on land with another method to exercise.
How frequently must you swim to see results? The more you swim, Power says, the more advantages you’ll experience. However, swimming (or other physical exercises) is better than doing nothing.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans said that adults should take at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus muscular exercises twice a week (PDF). However, according to Grant Radermacher, a doctor of chiropractic and sports chiropractor at Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and a former college swimmer, if you want to swim as a form of exercise, consider building up to 30 minutes of lap swimming three times a week. In addition, utilize the other days of the week to do different types of exercise, such as weight training and walking.
However, slowly start if you’re a beginner in swimming or swimming for exercise. Even in poor stability like swimming, Radermacher warns against doing too much too soon. You may have a possible injury if you notice the following three symptoms in addition to your usual post-exercise discomfort.
- Pain that stays for more than 72 hours
- Acute and unexpected pain
- Pain that throbs or radiates
Let’s dive to see how swimming benefits you.
1. Swimming Can Make You Live a Longer Life
Regular exercise, including swimming, has been shown in studies to improve lifespan. For example, swimmers had a 28% reduced risk of early mortality and a 41% decreased chance of death from heart disease and stroke compared to non-swimmers, according to a 2017 analysis by Swim England.
2. Swimming Can Help You Stay Slim
Swimming works out the entire body. According to Radermacher, “swimming activates everything from the arms, shoulders, and legs to the core, glues, and back.” As a result, he argues that you get a lot of energy for your cardio buck.
Harvard Medical School reported that a 155-pound individual may burn around 432 calories swimming in an hour compared to roughly 266 calories walking at a steady speed. In addition, a study in the Journal BMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation in 2021 showed that swimming for 16 weeks significantly decreased body fat and BMI.
3. Swimming Improves Heart Health
Similar to other aerobic exercises, swimming can increase your heart health. “Swimming strengthens the heart and makes the lungs more efficient at utilizing oxygen,” explains Brian J. Krabak, MD, clinical professor of rehabilitation, orthopedics, and sports medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, USA Swimming National Team Physician.
According to studies, swimming can help lower blood pressure, reduce hypertension, and enhance other cardiovascular health indicators.
4. Those Gaps Can Help Your Lungs
Suppose you have a lung problem such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In that case, you might be interested to know that swimming is beneficial to the lungs, according to a Swim England analysis.
“Swimming exercises the muscles involved in respiration, which means it can increase lung volume and improve breathing technique,” adds Power, who was not involved in the Swim England investigation. Furthermore, the pool is a good training location for asthma because it is humid, warm, and typically has low pollen levels.
Consult your doctor before starting swimming if you have lung or other problems.
5. Swimming Could Improve Brain Power
Researchers looked at the specific advantages of swimming on cognition and discovered a unique benefit. Exercise, in general, has been linked to improving memory.
In research published in the >Journal Physiological Reports, participants processed sensory information and answered quicker on intellectual tests done shortly after their swim. Dr. Cotter notes that even though the benefit is minor (approximately 4% on average), the fact that the workout had a noticeable effect after just one session is noteworthy. Swimming was also connected to better short- and long-term memory in mice in another study published in Physiological Reports.
6. The Water Workout Could Improve Your Mood
Any type of activity can improve one’s mood. However, according to 2003 research published in the Journal of Psychology, a single swimming session boosted mood more than just one aerobic dancing class, swimming significantly improved mood -(similar modifications in mood were connected with yoga and Feldenkrais exercise, a body awareness practice, in the population of women studied). “Regular swimming can relieve stress, anxiety, and sadness by releasing happy chemicals in the brain, notably endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin,” Radermacher explains.
7. Swimming Could Aid Sleep
Improved sleep is a benefit of almost any fitness plan. This activity involves swimming. According to Radermacher, “exercise helps reset your body’s internal clock and restores your normal circadian rhythm.”
Aerobic exercisers reported improved sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America poll (PDF), which focused on exercise and sleeping. It noted that about 76 to 83 percent of people who did light, moderate or vigorous exercise said good or reasonably good sleep quality, compared to 56 percent of non-exercisers. In addition, swimming was listed as a solid aerobic activity.
8. Swimming Can Help People With Chronic Pain
Reduced mobility and, in many cases, temporary or chronic discomfort are common symptoms of conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Swimming can aid in this situation. In addition, the physical function and quality of life of patients with musculoskeletal disorders can be improved by various swimming activities, including swimming, according to Power.
One study found that a three-month swimming program (participants swam for 45 minutes three days per week) reduced joint pain and stiffness while increasing muscular strength in persons with osteoarthritis.
According to Dr. Krabak, the buoyancy of the water offers resistance (making water workouts challenging) while still being reduced. This action is excellent if you have joint discomfort or stiffness. To get started and prepare for potential lap swimming, consider aquatic physical therapy if suffering from fibromyalgia or more severe pain.
9. Swimming Improves Bone Health
The Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation (PDF)
said that about 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass, with increased chances of osteoporosis. Among people aged 50 and up, one in every two women will break a bone due to osteoporosis, compared to one in every four men.
Swimming (if done regularly) may aid in building bone density, while weight training and high-impact exercises have historically been the best option. However, BioMed Research International 2020 review discovered that three to six hours of swimming per week enhanced bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, particularly long-term swimmers.
Physical exercises like swimming are very healthy for your body. Research shows that swimming is beneficial for health in many ways.
However, people should consult with the doctor before starting swimming if they have health issues like lungs or heart problems.