Swimming is a fun way to exercise if people find going to the gym or other forms of exercise difficult or boring. It is also a great way to workout outdoors. Swimming does not require any equipment and a person can swim in any safe water body, including natural water bodies or temperature-controlled indoor or outdoor swimming pools. It is a great form of aerobic exercise/cardio without much impact on the joints, hence reducing the risk of joint damage and preventing the worsening of damaged joints in conditions like arthritis. Swimming is an effective exercise for any age group.
Swimming has often been called the perfect exercise because it has several health benefits, including increased longevity of life. Research has shown that swimmers had a 50% lower death rate compared to those who were not active. Swimming is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. There are several different types/styles/strokes in swimming. Depending on the type of swimming style and intensity, swimming can even burn more calories than running and several other cardio exercises. It is possible to burn 100 calories with freestyle swimming or 150 calories with butterfly stroke in 10 minutes. A 10-minute run burns around 100 calories. Therefore, a 30-minute intense swimming session can burn around the same or more calories than a 5k run.
One may learn to swim to compete, exercise, for self-improvement, or survival. For this, one would have to learn the different types or styles of swimming to swim in any water body.
What are the eight benefits of swimming?
Some of the eight main benefits of swimming include:
- Weight loss: Swimming is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. Depending on the type of swimming style and intensity, swimming can even burn more calories than running and several other cardio exercises.
- Increased strength and muscle definition: Swimmers improve joint strength, muscle strength, and muscle definition throughout the body, making the body appear toned and well defined. It strengthens the muscles without straining them.
- Increased flexibility: Swimming involves a lot of twisting, stretching, and joint movement to move through the water against resistance. This eventually increases flexibility. In individuals who cannot walk or jog due to arthritis, swimming is the best exercise because it does not stress the joints.
- Improvement of asthma: Breathing dry gym air or pollen allergy can trigger an asthma attack in those with exercise-induced asthma. Breathing moist air while swimming decreases this risk. Swimming can help treat asthma symptoms by improving lung capacity and the overall condition of the lungs.
- Reduction of stress and depression: Swimming releases endorphins and the feeling of relaxation is similar to yoga. Being in the water, especially in an outdoor pool or natural water body, can be calming, distressing, and helpful in reducing depression.
- Swimming in the ocean can be beneficial to the skin: Swimming in the ocean instead of a pool can benefit the skin due to the salt in seawater. Salt can help the skin retain moisture, detox, and promote cell growth. This can result in healthier skin and better skin texture. However, swimming in the ocean requires one to be a really strong swimmer because unlike a pool, the currents in the ocean are strong, there is a high risk of accidents like an accidental drowning.
- Improved social wellbeing: Swimming is a social sport, can help one make new friends when exercising or training. One can gather friends and family to swim together, relax by the pool, and have a good time. Swimmers of all ages can take classes together, train together, or work with a coach in the pool. If you have a pool at home, you can gather your friends and family there. A study revealed exercising and socializing together leads to improved mental health. Participants in the study had lower levels of anxiety and depression than their peers did.
- Increased focus and goal orientation: Swimming helps improve concentration and teaches goal orientation, especially with skilled swimmers.
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Robinson KM. Swimming. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/swimming-for-fitness
All American Swim. Different Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits. https://allamericanswim.com/different-swimming-strokes
Decathlon Blog. Beginner's Guide to Different Types of Swimming Strokes. May 21, 2019. https://blog.decathlon.in/infographics/swimming-strokes