In addition to being fun, swimming is a great way to get a full-body workout and stay healthy. For example, swimming for an hour can help you burn nearly as many calories as running.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is the fourth most popular sport in the U.S., and it’s no wonder considering the fact that it offers many health benefits (1). Read on to find out how swimming can benefit your health.
What Are The 10 Health Benefits Of Swimming?
1. It Helps Keep Your Heart And Lungs Healthy
Swimming is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. One study, which included 20 overweight young men, found that eight-week swimming training decreased carotid arterial stiffness and systolic blood pressure and increased blood flow velocity in participants (2).
Another study, which included 62 women with hypertension, has found that low-volume high-intensity swimming is a fast and effective way to improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity (3).
Moreover, some researchers claim that swimming may even lower your risk of death.
2. It Helps You Burn Calories
If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, know that swimming can help you succeed in that effectively. A person weighing 160 pounds can torch around 423 calories an hour while swimming slowly or at a moderate pace, and if they swim at a faster pace, they can burn up to 715 calories an hour. Now, that same person would only burn approximately 314 calories while walking for an hour and 183 calories while practicing yoga in that hour.
Now, it’s clear why swimming is a sports activity that can help you burn calories fast and effectively.
3. It Works Your Entire Body
Swimming efficiently works every part of your body. The reason for this is that when you swim, you’re using nearly all of your muscles, regardless of your swimming style. In addition to toning your muscles, swimming helps you build strength and endurance and increases your heart rate.
To make your swimming workout more interesting and fun, you can try swimming different strokes, such as:
4. It’s Good For People With Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Swimming can benefit people suffering from MS as the water supports their limbs during exercise and provides mild resistance.
One study, which included 73 patients with MS, found that doing Ai-Chi exercise in a swimming pool significantly improved spasms and pain in participants. It also led to an improvement in other symptoms such as fatigue, disability, and depression (4).
5. It’s Suitable And Safe For People With Osteoarthritis And Injuries
In addition to being suitable and safe for people with osteoarthritis and injuries, swimming is an appropriate exercise option for individuals with a disability or other health problems that prevent them from doing high-impact exercises.
Moreover, swimming may even aid your recovery from an injury or help decrease pain. For example, in one study, 48 middle-aged and older adults with osteoarthritis were asked to engage in a three-month swimming or cycling training. The results showed that swimming regularly improved muscle strength and considerably decreased joint pain and stiffness related to osteoarthritis. Participants also reported feeling less physically limited after swimming. The study also showed that the benefits of swimming were similar to those of cycling (5).
6. It Helps Relieve Stress
Swimming is one of the most relaxing and calming forms of exercise. In addition to helping you feel relaxed, swimming can make you feel energized and lower your stress levels. The stress-reducing effects of swimming have been confirmed by science too (6).
7. It’s A Safe Exercise For Pregnant Women
Swimming is safe for pregnant women during all three semesters. Moreover, one study has found that there are no adverse effects of swimming in pool water, which contains disinfection by-products, while pregnant. In addition, women that swam in early or mid-pregnancy had a lower risk of premature labor or giving birth to a baby with congenital defects (7).
8. It’s A Good Exercise Option For People With Asthma
Swimming in indoor pools can offer asthmatics many health benefits due to the humid environment. Besides this, the breathing exercises that this sport includes, such as holding your breath, can help improve the function of your respiratory muscles and alter the elasticity of your ventilator muscles and chest and lung wall (8).
However, it’s worth mentioning that swimming may trigger symptoms of asthma due to the chemicals used in pools. So, if you have asthma, it’s best to swim in a pool that uses salt water and consult your doctor about the possible risks of swimming.
9. It’s Great For Children As Well
It’s recommended that children do aerobic exercise for an hour every day. Swimming is a great choice for them as it is fun and relaxing and doesn’t feel like a formal workout.
Whether kids are part of a swim team, engage in recreational swimming, or do structured swimming lessons, swimming can keep them healthy.
10. It Can Improve Your Mood
In one study, 11 people with dementia were recruited and asked to participate in a 12-week exercise intervention that included aquatic exercises for balance, strength, flexibility, and relaxation. The results showed that this type of exercise improved psychological well-being in participants (9). And we believe there’s no need to mention that exercise, regardless of its type, can help improve mood in other people too.
What Happens When You Start Swimming Regularly?
Swimming every day can offer you the following health benefits:
1. It Can Benefit Your Lungs
Swimming breaststroke can help keep your lungs strong and healthy. This swimming style strengthens your upper body and chest. In addition, when you swim breaststroke, you need to breathe out into the water, and this raises the resistance on your chest, thereby contributing to the function of your lungs.
2. It Can Improve Your Mental Health
In addition to allowing your mind to take a break from persistent digital stimulation, swimming relaxes your whole body and helps you feel less stressed. Some researchers even claim that swimming over a period of 12 weeks is comparable to yoga in terms of decreasing stress and anxiety.
3. It Can Improve Your Sleep
Aerobic exercise has been associated with improved sleep duration and better quality of sleep.
So, there’s a high probability that swimming, being one form of aerobic exercise, can help you fall asleep more easily and faster and stay asleep for longer.
4. It Helps You Build Strength And Increases Your Muscle Mass
As we already said, swimming works every part of your body as you’re moving nearly all of your muscles while swimming. If you swim regularly, especially at a vigorous pace, you’ll notice how the muscles in your upper body, arms, and thighs quickly get toned up.
How Long Do You Need To Swim To Get A Good Workout?
To get a good workout, i.e. burn more calories and eventually lose weight, it’s recommended that you begin swimming for 15 to 20 minutes every other day. After several days, if your body allows, start swimming for half an hour five days a week. Just make sure how you modify your swimming routines since if you don’t do that the right way, this could lead to fatigue and muscle soreness.
What Happens To Your Body After Swimming?
After two minutes of swimming, your blood flow, and heart rate increase. The extra oxygen produced in your body helps you feel more alert and focused. Your body also produces heat which is released while you’re swimming.
Since when you swim, all of your muscles are engaged, after swimming, your body will need 24 to 48 hours to rebuild and recover your muscles.
Can Swimming Reduce Belly Fat?
Like we already said, swimming helps you burn a lot of calories. It also improves the shape of your body. Research has even shown that swimming can reduce body fat percentage in overweight young adults (10).
When it comes to reducing belly fat, you need to know that there are specific swimming techniques that can optimize its effect on this body part. So, if you want to get that flat belly by swimming, follow these three tips:
- Swim straight
Swim with your whole body as straight as it can be. This will help strengthen your core, improve your performance, and protect you from potential injuries.
- Cardio swimming
Incorporating cardio swimming into your swimming routine means that you need to swim for 15 to 20 minutes without taking a break. While you’re swimming, you’re also required to measure your heart rate and keep it constantly in the fat-burning zone. To do this, you can use a device that will help you control your pulse.
- Treading water
Take a break from doing laps and go to the deep end of the pool and begin treading water fast. Practicing this technique will help build your stomach muscles.
Which Style Of Swimming Is The Best For Weight Loss?
Those of you who are trying to lose weight by swimming, know that swimming the butterfly stroke can benefit you the most. Although it’s not the fastest stroke and it’s the most difficult to learn as well, the butterfly stroke can help you burn the most calories.
Swimming butterfly for 30 minutes can help you burn approximately 450 calories.
This swimming style is also very effective in toning your back muscles, arms, chest, and stomach. It also helps improve your flexibility and body posture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It OK To Swim Every Day?
Swimming in a local pool in your town or nearby lake or sea every day can do wonders for your body and mind. Swimming is a great sports activity since unlike other cardio exercises such as running or cycling, swimming works every part of your body. And fortunately, you don’t need to swim thousands of yards a week like Michael Phelps so as to reap all of the health benefits of swimming.
Here are several reasons why daily swimming is good for your health:
- It increases your heart rate without stressing your body
- It helps keep your lungs and heart strong and healthy
- It’s a total body workout
- It helps you burn calories
- It builds muscle strength and endurance
- It improves your flexibility
- It doesn’t put pressure on your joints, muscles, and ligaments
- It makes you feel relaxed, calm, and less stressed
- It improves your mood
- It improves your sleep
Is Swimming 3 Times A Week Enough?
Swimming for half an hour three times a week while also making sure that you eat a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most effective ways to keep your body in shape and maintain optimal health.
However, if you’re trying to lose pounds, try swimming for 4-5 days a week for the best effects.
Does Swimming Change Your Body Shape?
Yes, it does. Swimming improves the shape of your body, even when it’s not accompanied by other types of exercise.
Swimming improves your body shape by helping you burn calories and body fat and tightening up your whole body. So, it’s no wonder all swimmers have an elongated, fit body shape, sculpted arms and legs, broad shoulders, and, of course, awesome abs.
Is Swimming Better Than Going To The Gym?
Let’s get one thing straight: Both swimming and doing gym workouts can benefit your health. Now, when it comes to which of these two is better, the answer depends on your preference and training goals.
For instance, if you enjoy lifting weights or treadmill running, do gym workouts. But if you prefer activities with less impact, you should choose swimming.
In addition, if your goal is to build endurance, strength, muscle, and cardiovascular fitness and burn more calories, swimming is a better choice than doing gym workouts. Doing workouts at the gym can’t really help you achieve this.
Is Swimming Better Than Running?
Again, if your goal is to build cardiovascular fitness, swimming is a better choice than running since the resistance is greater in water than in the air.
Then, if your goal is to gain muscle, swimming is also a better choice than running since more muscles are engaged during this activity. On the other hand, running mainly engages your lower body muscles.
In addition, swimming puts less pressure on your ligaments, joints, and muscles than running.
If you’re looking to improve the strength of your bones, then running is a better choice than swimming since it’s a weight-bearing activity.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Swimming?
Swimming every day can damage your hair.
The salt in sea and ocean water and the chlorine in pool water dry out your hair by stripping away the natural oils in your hair. They also damage the cuticle.
So, when swimming in a pool, make sure you wear a swim cap. When it comes to swimming in the sea or ocean, it’s recommended that you wet your hair with fresh water prior to going for a swim. After swimming, you should rinse your hair with water and add more conditioner.
Swimming every day can irritate the skin on your shoulders.
When swimming sidestroke, you turn your head to breathe, which causes it to brush against your shoulder. This can irritate the skin on your shoulders and cause a red patch of skin.
Swimming in a pool regularly can lead to chlorine rash.
Often swimming in pool water containing chlorine can cause you to develop an itchy rash with symptoms like swollen or reddened skin, bumps, and hives. You can develop an itchy rash even if you’re not allergic to chlorine.
Daily swimming in a pool increases your risk of developing chemical conjunctivitis.
When pool water treated with saline and chlorine gets into contact with your eyes, these disinfectants interact with the tear film on your eyes’ surfaces, thereby causing the water in it to evaporate. This leads to a condition known as swimmer’s eye, which makes you more prone to develop chemical conjunctivitis.
To protect your eyes while swimming in pools, wear goggles and rinse your eyes with fresh water right after swimming.
Daily swimming can lead to a swimmer’s ear.
It has happened to all of us. When water gets into your ear while swimming, this can be quite uncomfortable and annoying. If that water stays trapped in your ear for a longer period of time, it makes it easier for bacteria to grow and cause an ear infection called otitis externa. This condition is also known as the swimmer’s ear.
Note: If you have health issues, you should consult your doctor about whether it’s safe for you to start doing aerobic exercises, including swimming.
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