In the United States, swimming is an activity taken up by 27 million people aged six or over and is the fourth most popular physical activity.
Health Benefits of Swimming
Engaging in physical exercise, especially on a routine basis, can give a person a host of health advantages. Frequent physical activity strengthens cardiovascular health, assists in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight, decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and could possibly minimize the risk of certain forms of cancer.
Regular physical activity can help you maintain sharp cognitive functioning, learning aptitude, and good decision-making skills as you grow older, decrease your chances of succumbing to depression, and even support better sleep.
Just one session of physical activity can have immediate positive effects, including decreased anxiety levels in the moment.
The aquatic environment and the holistic nature of swimming grant it a few exclusive benefits compared to other well-known physical activities like walking, running, or biking.
Studies have looked into the physical effects of taking part in various forms of swimming. It needs to be taken into account, however, that just like with any sport, there are discrepancies in terms of who takes part.
May Improve Body Composition
Swimming may help you to reduce body fat. In a study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, it was discovered that a group of middle-aged women who swam for sixty minutes three times a week for twelve weeks experienced a reduction in body fat of almost three percent while the control group, who did not swim, did not have a notable change. The swimmers exhibited increased suppleness, better cardiac performance, and healthier blood fats.
A different study looked at transformations in bodily make-up in female youths who took part in a 3-month swim program. A sample of thirty-four female participants aged in their early twenties were evaluated by randomly assigning them to a cohort which swam or a cohort which was a sedentary (non-swimming) group. The swimming group did three hour-long swims each week for a period of 12 weeks.
After the research was done, it became evident that the swimming group did have a reduced circumference around their hips but did not have considerable variations in their body composition as compared to the group who did not go swimming.
The outcomes from the investigation exhibited that master competitive swimmers experienced less corpulence in the greater part of age gatherings and swallowed less medication when compared with benchmark information from a few sources.
Reduced Risk of Musculoskeletal Injury
Exercise physiologists have noticed that certain popular sports and recreational activities necessitate a specific level of skill and can involve coming into contact with the ground, which could lead to bumps and bruises, fractures, and some much more severe injuries. The possibility of getting hurt is a major downside for many conventional sports and physical activities.
In a published review, the chances of sustaining low-impact injuries while swimming are reduced because the body is supported by the water, which reduces its overall weight.
Research shows swimming provides a decreased chance of musculoskeletal injuries, which makes it beneficial for individuals of all ages to participate.
Great for Any Age or Ability Level
If an injury or a chronic condition limits your ability to walk, swimming provides an ideal form of physical exercise. It is possible for people of all ages and different levels of experience to enjoy swimming as it is an easy form of exercise on the body.
Even if you can’t swim laps, that’s OK! Water aerobics classes (also recognized as aquarobics) lightly strengthen muscles and get your heart rate going without exerting too much pressure on your body. If you’re not into learning in a group setting, swimming at your own speed for a few minutes still works out your entire body and gets your heart rate up.
Bonus: You get to feel like a mermaid. Reaching your 10,000 step goal won’t give you a chance to live out The Little Mermaid, but 10 minutes spent swimming will.
It’s a Full-body Workout
Jump into the pool and take advantage of a full body workout. It appears as though your limbs are doing the bulk of the labor, but that’s not actually accurate. Swimming helps to build up your center of balance, gets your heart rate up, and exercises virtually every muscle in your back.
It is difficult to exercise all of these body parts without spending two hours in the gym. If you take a dip, it won’t take long for you to feel the fire of a full-body workout, with just 20 minutes or less.
Easy on the Joints
You have two choices when it comes to physical activity: either do it vigorously and at a high intensity, though it may be hard on your joints, or stay at a lower intensity that is gentle on your joints. With swimming, you get the best of both worlds. Game-changer.
Swimming is an excellent exercise for people who have just become physically active. The American Council on Exercise states that the use of buoyancy in the water can reduce an individual’s body weight by up to 90%. This suggests that your joints only have to bear 10 percent of the amount of strain they typically do, dramatically curtailing your possibility of getting hurt.
Swimming is a great choice for people of any age and ability.
May Improve Arthritis Symptoms
If you suffer from arthritis, swimming is an effective means of exercise that is low impact on your body. Studies have indicated that swimming may be effective in reducing inflammation and discomfort experienced due to arthritis.
You have the option of selecting a strenuous swimming exercise to raise your heart rate or opting for a refreshing regimen if that better suits you. No matter what, this will not worsen arthritis and will improve your overall health.
Pregnant? No problem!
It is not anticipated that you will break any Olympic records while you are pregnant. You should try to remain active physically during your pregnancy if it can be done. Exercising while pregnant is made safer by involving swimming as part of the regimen. It can furthermore aid with usual pregnancy ailments such as backaches and enlarged joints.
A 2010 research investigation determined that expectant mothers who engage in swimming have a slightly diminished probability of preterm baby delivery. Do not agonize over the elements contained in pool water; per the same research, chlorine and other substances had no influence on unborn children or expecting mothers.
Folks with Asthma Can Breathe Easy
For individuals who are concerned about ventilation, a vast amount of water may not seem like the ideal option. But swimming is ideal for people with asthma.
A 2012 study demonstrated that swimmers had more developed lung capacity and better regulation of their breath than runners did. Swimming is not a definitive treatment for asthma, however it may be beneficial in increasing strength and respiratory capacity.
Be aware: A survey conducted in 2010 concluded that inhalation of chlorine may exacerbate asthma symptoms. It would be a smart move to take caution when beginning your swimming regimen, since this assessment is not definitive. Go for a saltwater pool if it is available, and if you are concerned about chlorine in the water, speak to a health professional.
Tips to Get Started
If swimming has motivated you to set up your own program, Munson has a few recommendations to aid you in initiating it.
Reframe Fears About Breathing
Many are frightened by the thought that one cannot inhale when submerged underwater. But Munson explains that you do breathe under water.
When your face is underwater, exhale and when your head is out of the water, inhale. You are capable of taking in air while submerged in the water. Instead, you breathe differently underwater.
“Many people think they should hold their breath under the water. When you do that, you’re actually creating a feeling of panic. But if you breathe out underwater and breathe in when you bring your head up or turn your head to the side you’ll be able to create the same in-out rhythm that you have on land.”
Munson advises that you get used to the new way of breathing by doing some bubble blowing in the water before attempting to swim. Dip your face into the liquid and blow out a lot of large bubbles, take a breath when your head comes back up. Repeating this process can aid in creating a pleasant, steady breathing rate.
Munson believes that locating an excellent educator would be beneficial. A qualified instructor can often be of aid in overcoming any negative experiences people may have concerning water.
She advises people to consider taking part in the USMS Adult Learn to Swim Program and secure the services of a qualified instructor. Additionally, she remarks that there are competent trainers available from public swimming pools and YMCAs.
And don’t forget to give yourself time and be forgiving while you are mastering the art of swimming. She advises against allowing others to push you into situations that you are not prepared or comfortable with. Do not tell yourself that you are incapable of reaching the next step.
Learn to Tread Water
Learning how to tread water provides the ability to remain afloat regardless of how deep the water is. Munson claims that attaining this skill can grant one a significant boost in their self-assurance while in the water. It aids beginner swimmers in taking a breather and giving themselves a sense of security when they feel uneasy.
Lastly, Munson suggests that practice is important. It’s not necessary to be in the pool for a long period of time on any given occasion; just a short amount of time each session will produce results.
“I can always tell when swimmers in my weekly classes have been in the pool in between sessions,” she says. “It doesn’t take long to develop skills, but you do have to get in the pool to do it.”
How to turn splashing into a full-on workout
Prior to engaging in any sort of physical activity, it is recommended to warm up first. Start with a nice stretch. Extend your shoulder muscles, hips, and legs for 10 to 15 seconds each. Do not attempt to stretch without first making sure that your muscles are warm as it could be detrimental. Therefore, it is important to make sure your body temperature is heightened before engaging in a program of stretching. Doing a 5-minute cardio workout is a great way to get the circulation going.
You can warm up in the pool. Take it easy while swimming for 5 minutes before doing something more strenuous. Swimming is not hard on the body, so it is not necessary for the warmup routine to be complicated.
Is there a rule that says no eating 30 minutes prior to swimming? Well, that’s pretty much crap. Should you hit up a buffet before a swim? There is not a specific guideline dictating how hungry one should be before taking a swim.
Consuming a low-calorie meal can provide you with the vigor to complete your exercise session, so don’t hesitate to consume a tiny snack prior to going to the swimming pool.
Safety Tips Before You Take The Plunge
Engaging in swimming can be enjoyable, but there could be potential hazards. Be certain that the safety guidelines are followed before shouting “CANNONBALL!” *jump in the pool*
- Take a lesson. If you’re worried about your swimming abilities, take a lesson! It’s not just for kids. Learning proper swimming techniques can save your life and give you a good workout.
- Don’t push it. As with all workouts, listen to your body. Don’t push yourself to the point of pain. If you start hurting or cramping up, get yourself to the edge of the pool. Always call for a lifeguard for assistance if needed.
- Take a breather. Sometimes getting water in your mouth or working out a little too hard can make you lose your breath. If that’s the case, get to the edge of the pool. Let your breathing get back to normal before you continue your workout. If you’re still having trouble breathing, call the lifeguard for help immediately.
- Drink up. Sure, you’re literally in water, but you probably don’t want to take refreshing gulps of chlorine or salt water to quench your thirst. Bring a water bottle and take sips during breaks to make sure you’re properly hydrated.
- Thunderbolts and lightning. If you’re swimming outside and you see lightning, get out of the water. Wait 30 minutes after you hear the last thunderclap before you start swimming again.
- Keep kids safe. If you’re swimming with children, keep an eye on them. Young children are at a very high risk of drowning, so keep them physically with you or in your line of sight at all times. Older kids might be better swimmers, but they don’t always know their limits. They need constant supervision too.
We just want to make sure we understand all the possible risks of swimming, even though it may seem intimidating. Exercising in a pool with a lifeguard present is among the most secure activities. Just know your limits.