Are you wanting to switch up your exercise routine? Give swimming a try! There are so many incredible health benefits that come along with swimming every day, including helping with back and joint pain! Read the article to find out more.
Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke, and freestyle — no matter how you take to the water, swimming is the perfect workout. It engages your body without murdering your joints. It’s also a killer form of cardio.
Get out your swimsuits, folks. Here are the top 13 benefits of swimming.
Any form of exercise has benefits, but swimming is special. From stress reduction to a potentially longer life, swimming can help you long after you’ve left the pool. Let’s dive right in.
1. It’s a full-body workout
When you jump into the pool, everything gets a workout. It may seem like your legs and arms do most of the work, but that’s not the case. Swimming strengthens your core, raises your heart rate, and engages nearly all the muscles in your back.
It’s hard to hit all these muscle groups without doing a 2-hour gym session. When you swim, you get that full-body burn in as little as 20 minutes.
2. It’s easy on your joints
With most forms of exercise, you have two options: high intensity but hard on your joints or low intensity and easy on your joints. With swimming, you get the best of both worlds. Game-changer.
Swimming is a great workout for those new to the #FitLife. According to the American Council on Exercise, buoyancy reduces your body weight by 90 percent. That means your joints only have to deal with 10 percent of their usual weight load, which can drastically reduce your chance of injury.
This makes swimming a terrific option for people of all ages and skill levels.
3. It may improve arthritis symptoms
If you live with arthritis, many forms of exercise can be tough — but swimming isn’t one of them. Some research suggests swimming can even decrease pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.
You can choose a high-intensity swimming workout to really get your heart rate up or pick a relaxed routine if that’s more your vibe. Either way, it won’t aggravate arthritis and will help your overall health.
4. It’s great for any age or ability level
If you have trouble walking due to an injury or a chronic condition, swimming is one of the best ways to get a workout. Swimming is so gentle on the body that folks of any age or ability level can do it.
Even if you can’t swim laps, that’s OK! Aqua aerobics classes (aka aquarobics) gently build muscle and get your heart pumping without putting excess strain on your body. If group classes aren’t your thing, a few minutes of swimming at your own pace still engages your whole body and gets the blood flowing.
Bonus: You get to feel like a mermaid. Hitting 10,000 steps doesn’t let you live your Ariel fantasy, but 10 minutes in the pool will.
5. Pregnant? No problem!
Nobody expects you to beat any Olympic records while your eggo is preggo. But you should stay physically active during your pregnancy if possible. Swimming is one of the safest ways to work out while pregnant. It can also help with common pregnancy symptoms like backaches and swollen joints.
A 2010 study found that women who swam during pregnancy had a slightly lower chance of preterm delivery. And don’t worry about the chemicals — the same study found that chlorine (and other pool chemicals) had no effect on babies or pregnant women.
6. Folks with asthma can breathe easy
For people who are worried about breathing, a huge body of water may not sound like a great choice. But swimming is ideal for people with asthma.
A 2012 study found that swimmers had greater lung capacity and better breath control than runners. This doesn’t mean swimming cures asthma, but it can help build strength and lung capacity.
A slight word of warning: A 2010 review found that chlorine might make asthma slightly worse. While this review isn’t conclusive, it’s a good idea to be careful as you start your swimming routine. Use a saltwater pool if possible, and talk to a doctor if you’re concerned about chlorine.
7. You’ll notice a happier mind
In general, exercise helps relieve anxiety and depression — and that includes swimming.
A small study from 1992 found that people who swam regularly felt less anger, tension, confusion, and depression. And a 2014 study on animals found that swimming had antidepressant effects.
Reminder: Swimming isn’t a cure-all
Talk to a professional if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety. Swimming might be a great addition to their suggested treatments.
8. Swimming regulates blood sugar
Limiting your sugar intake is the best way to balance your blood sugar. But swimming can help!
A 2016 study found that high-intensity swimming three times a week increased insulin sensitivity and balanced blood glucose. This can reduce your risk of diabetes. And if you have diabetes, swimming can help keep your blood sugar in check.
Your fingers don’t have to prune to get the best blood glucose results. Using HIIT intervals for a total of 30 minutes was found to be more effective than swimming at low intensity for an hour.
9. It may decrease your risk of heart disease
Carotid arterial stiffness: If you’re thinking “WTF is that?”, you’re not alone. But it’s very important! Carotid arterial stiffness refers to the stiffness of the walls of the heart. Stiff walls mean a higher risk of heart disease, and flexible walls mean a lower risk.
One study found that people with a regular swimming routine lost weight and had decreased carotid arterial stiffness, lower blood pressure, and increased blood flow to the brain. All these benefits reduce the risk of heart disease.
10. It burns up calories
Since your whole body is working, it’s no surprise that swimming is a real calorie burner. Swimming burns the same amount of calories as jogging (without the joint stress). And that’s if you’re swimming at a relaxed pace!
How many calories can I burn?
If it’s a vigorous swim, a 155-pound person would burn 372 calories in 30 minutes, compared to 223 for a light jog.
Another perk: You can swim every day! Swimming is gentle enough on the body that you can swim at a fairly high intensity (heart rate-wise) every day without risking injury. Of course, rest days are always recommended.
11. It’ll help you slay that REM cycle
“I’ve never had a problem sleeping,” said no one ever. In general, exercise helps you sleep. A 2010 study on aerobic activity and insomnia found that people who exercised slept better, slept longer, and felt better during the day than those who were less active.
Everyone in the study also practiced good sleep hygiene (going to bed around the same time each night, keeping the sleeping area quiet and dark, etc.).
12. People who swim live longer (maybe)
Are pools the real fountains of youth? A 2017 study found that swimming on a regular basis was associated with a 28 percent lower risk of dying from any cause and a 41 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.
Swimming might not make you any younger, but it could help you live a healthier and possibly longer life.
13. It reduces stress
If you’re a human being, you’re probably stressed on the reg. Lucky for you, swimming reduces stress.
A 2012 survey commissioned by Speedo found that 74 percent of participants had reduced stress after swimming. And 70 percent said swimming left them mentally refreshed.
Keep in mind that any form of exercise can help reduce stress. But water-based activities are known to have additional soothing effects. It’s just hard to be stressed out when you’re floating in water.