Swimming is a great way to exercise, tone, build muscle and also has some fantastic wellbeing benefits too. If you’re keen to try something new this autumn – or find a more effective way to exercise – it could be the activity that you need. These are just some of the health benefits to regular swimming.
- Minimising physical wear and tear. Swimming is one of the few activities that allows you to do an intense workout that is low impact and so minimises the impact on joints.
- All muscle groups get worked. Exercise can often target specific muscle groups but leave out others. This isn’t the case when you’re swimming as all of them are activated, even the often-ignored lats, deltoids, and traps.
- Swimming is open to everyone. From people who are injured to top-level athletes, pregnant women or children, everyone can get in the water and swim.
- Combining cardio and strength. When you’re swimming it’s not an ‘either or’ situation where cardio and strength are concerned as you’ll get a workout with both. Not only are you swimming against the resistance of the water and increasing the impact of the workout as a result but you have to be in constant motion or you’ll sink so the intensity level is high.
- Improving lung capacity and function. Studies have found that swimmers have greater tidal volume (the amount of air moving in and out of the lungs during normal breathing) due to the way that the body learns to use oxygen more efficiently and expel more carbon dioxide with every breath.
- Boosting your capacity in other sports. Breathing techniques learned in the pool can be applied to other sports, such as long distance running. Plus you’ll benefit from the positive impact of swimming on hamstring, glutes and core.
- Swimming is a stress buster. When you’re in the water you’re isolated from the usual bombardment of sensory information and this can make you feel calm and relaxed.
- It’s also anti aging. One study found that regular swimmers are 20 years younger than their real age, biologically speaking. Everything, from blood pressure to cardiovascular performance and cholesterol, is at a level you’d expect from a younger person if you swim regularly, even when you’re in your 70s.
- Brain benefits. When you’re swimming blood flow to the brain is increased by 14%. This can have a lot of benefits, so much so that there is now a considerable body of research investigating whether water based workouts are better for the brain than those we do on land.
- Getting outside your comfort zone. It can be challenging to get into the pool for the first time, to start setting yourself fitness goals and working up to them. But the more you venture outside your comfort zone in this way the more open you’ll be to new experiences – maybe swimming the English Channel is next.
Swimming is a very accessible form of exercise that has some fantastic health and wellbeing benefits that anyone can enjoy.