Swimming provides unparalleled cardiovascular conditioning, provided you practice consistently and with good technique. While other forms of exercise may be more effective at elite levels (such as running or cycling), incorporating swimming into a cross-training routine and pushing yourself in practice will result in overall improved fitness.
It’s Great for Your Lungs
When your face is under water, oxygen is at a premium. In turn, your body adapts to use oxygen more efficiently. Plus, it learns to take in more fresh air with every breath, and expel more carbon dioxide with every exhalation. A study in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology even found that swimmers had better tidal volume (the amount of air that moves in and out of the lungs during relaxed breathing) compared to runners. This results in lower resting heart rates and lower blood pressure.
Balance Your Build
Swimming builds longer, leaner muscles that complement the shorter denser muscles that develop from weight training. These “swimmer’s muscles” also help boost metabolism to keep calories burning longer.
Strengthen Your Core
Swimming develops core body strength because it utilizes all the body’s muscles simultaneously. Although 70 percent of a swimmer’s effort comes from the upper body, kickboard and fin workouts can provide an excellent leg workout.
Swimmers are able to swim longer than they can what they could sustain doing other activities. With the right technique, a swimmer will be able to train for longer periods of time than if he/she were running and, as a result, more calories are burned.
Full body workout
Swimming uses all the muscles in the body so whether you swim a gentle breaststroke or hammer butterfly, you will get a full body workout. Plus, exercising in water makes your body work harder so 30 minutes in a pool is worth 45 minutes of the same activity on land.
Swimming Counts as Both Cardio and Strength Training
In swimming, if you aren’t moving constantly, you’re sinking. (Forced cardio!) Plus, water is about 800 times denser than air, so your muscles are under constant resistance. It has the power to give your muscles a makeover, transform you into a cardio king, turn back the clock, and calm you quicker than a secluded beach in the Bahamas.
Swimming Uses Otherwise Underworked Muscles
When you’re in the pool, your arms are all over the place, meaning you need to work your often-neglected lats, deltoids, and traps. And we know you aren’t targeting those when you’re on a bike or pounding the pavement. Plus, since so much of swimming is about staying balanced and level in the water (while both your arms and legs are moving, mind you), swimming helps you develop the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and lower back that women often miss.
A heated pool relaxes muscles, increasing flexibility and enabling important stretching. Also, after intense lactic-acid-building endurance workouts (running, cycling, weights), an easy swim helps flush out toxins preventing muscle tightness and soreness the following day.
Swimming not only boosts cardiovascular capacity while increasing muscle strength, but it also gives your body a break from higher-impact activities like basketball, running, and weightlifting. By creating a balanced workout routine, athletes avoid injury by allowing their body time to heal, while not forgoing daily training sessions.
Great for general wellbeing
Just 30 minutes of swimming three times a week alongside a balanced, healthy diet and lifestyle is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy and maintain a positive mental outlook.
People who consistently swim strenuously enough to be out of breath when they finish and elevate their heart rate do burn calories and lose weight. The key is to push yourself a bit.
No matter what your fitness level, the general benefits of swimming are yours to go out and grab and make your own.
Swimming is one of the most effective ways to burn calories. A gentle swim can burn over 200 calories in just half an hour, more than double that of walking. And a faster swim would see that indulgent chocolate bar gone quicker than if you went running or cycling.
De-stresses and relaxes
Swimming regularly can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve your sleep patterns. Feeling the mental benefits of swimming takes just a light swim. No lane pounding needed.
Lowers the risk of diseases.
As well as being a great form of cardiovascular exercise, swimming just 30 minutes a week can help to guard against heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
It’s Easy on the Impact
The low impact means swimming is a great workout for injured athletes, who need to take it easy on their joints. But it may also mean more results: You can swim at higher intensities on a regular basis without feeling wear and tear on your body.
Anyone Can Do It
Whether you’re recovering from an injury, pregnant (Walton has trained women in the pool on their due dates), a new mom, or an Ironman competitor, swimming can give you a great workout (um, as long as you—you know—know how to swim). You control the pace, intensity, and what you get out of every session, he says.
Swimming Turns Back the Clock
Regular swimmers are biologically 20 years younger than their driver’s licenses say they are, according to research from Indiana University. Scientists say that, even up until your 70th birthday, swimming affects blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system health, cognitive functioning, muscle mass, and blood chemistry to be much more similar to that of your younger self. Who needs night cream?
Swimming Makes You Smarter
Blood flow to the brain increased by up to 14 percent when men submerged themselves in water up to their hearts, according to a Journal of Physiology study. Researchers believe water’s pressure on the chest cavity may have something to do with it, and they are now studying whether water-based workouts improve blood flow to the brain better than do land-based ones. Stay tuned.
Swimming has branched out from the darkened, indoor community pools of yesteryear. Many new health club chains offer clean lap pools, and local communities are finding renewed interest in outdoor facilities during the summer months. Seek out available natatoriums in your area and if you are able, locate a natural body of water (lake, ocean, pond, or quarry) and explore the joys of open-water swimming.