14 Reasons Why Swimming is the Ultimate Exercise
Choosing an activity to keep you fit and healthy all year round can be tricky. Running is tough on your joints, weights can require a training partner and cycling on the road can often be weather permitting.
So how about swimming?
Swimming is the ultimate exercise for health and vitality, it helps improve blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Swimming essentially keeps you healthier and happier for longer, it encompasses mind, body and soul; perfect for those who need an escape from the stress of everyday life.
As well as improving self-esteem, confidence and focus, swimming also has many physical benefits. Here’s just a few reasons why people choose swimming as their go-to hobby.
Physical Benefits of Swimming
1. The Best Cardio
Swimming is predominantly a cardiovascular activity and is considered to be the best form of aerobic exercise. This is mainly due to the breathing control involved. Swimming is ‘hypoxic’ in nature, which means, holding your breath whilst exercising. This increases the demand for oxygen in the muscles and makes the heart beat stronger and faster.
2. Strong Muscles
Swimming builds muscular endurance. The resistance of the water produces a similar effect to that of weight training, but with far less stress on the joints. The amount of resistance can be increased with extra propulsion, acceleration and better timing. Take a look at the typical swimmer’s physique, muscles appear strong and toned with correct proportion.
3. The Perfect Balance
When compared with other activities like cycling and running, swimming offers multiple benefits. It targets the whole body and involves muscles that are under-used during everyday activity. The combination of cardiovascular and resistance elements builds a strong, healthy physique and provide an excellent all-round workout.
4. Torching Body Fat
Swimming for 1 hour can typically burn around 500-700 calories, similar to a 1-hour run at a challenging pace, I know what I’d rather be doing, swimming! Regular swimming burns through calories like a sports car burns through petrol, hence the reason why hunger levels are usually very high right after jumping out of the pool, metabolism is through the roof. We’ve heard about the insane diets of Olympic swimmers, often consuming up to 10,000 calories per day to fuel their training. The majority of us don’t need to swim for four hours a day, but we can reap the rewards of good calorie blasting workout.
Back problems are becoming more frequent, especially later in life. We are a generation of ‘sitters’. At school, at work, and at home we spend lots of time sitting down, we often slouch with poor posture and without engaging our core. Swimming encourages correct posture, similar to gymnastics.
Improving your posture can have a profound effect on your physiology. If you stand up straight, pull your shoulders back and breathe deeply, your brain will get a message to become alert, vital and resourceful.
– Tony Robbins Unlimited Power
During swimming the muscles become very warm, especially if swimming in a heated pool. The water offers buoyancy to the body and reduces impact on the bones and joints. Swimming often involves a full range of motion which stretches the muscles and improves overall flexibility.
During intensive exercises like weight training lactic acid is produced, feelings of stiffness and soreness in the muscles can be reduced by swimming at a low intensity for long periods. Swimming is the perfect exercise for recovery and reducing lactic acid/toxins out of the muscles.
There’s four main swimming strokes, mastering them all requires skill and persistance. As you develop your swimming skill set, balance timing and co-ordination all improve.
Water is 12 times denser than air, it provides extra support during exercise which is essential for reducing impact during pregnancy. Swimming helps to strengthen vulnerable areas like the shoulders, back and core that can often become stained whilst carrying a baby.
10. Reduces Symptoms of Many Illness and Diseases
Swimming improves (BNDF) brain-derived neurotrophic factor which is the growth factor so important for the formation on new connections between nerve cells. It can also repair damaged nerve cells and increases brain production. Swimming is well known to help with arthritis and digestive problems too. If you struggle with symptoms from injuries illnesses or diseaes swimming can be a great way to reduce the problems and rehabilitate.
Psychological Benefits of Swimming
11. Self Esteem
Swimming builds confidence and raises self-esteem. During exercise endorphins are released by the body and interact with the receptors in your brain. Endorphins mask physical pain, similar to the effects of morphine. Producing this chemical naturally through exercise can have a profound effect on mental wellbeing and can even help to overcome addictive behaviours.
12. Stress Reduction
Swimming at a moderate intensity releases the mood-boosting chemical called serotonin. People who suffer with stress and depression usually have low levels of serotonin, hence the reason why regular swimming can help to reduce depression. If you ever feeling a bit low, try jumping in the pool and swimming a few lengths. Be sure to notice an uplifting feeling as you glide through the water.
Swimming at high intensity causes your adrenal glands above your kidneys to produce a hormone called norepinephrine. When increased levels of norepinephrine are pushed through your bloodstream during intense exercise the result is a spike in both focus and alertness. This explains partly the popularity of high intensity interval training. Let’s say you have an important interview, presentation or exam, increased levels of the brain chemical norepinephrine can help you to resist distraction and accomplish tasks.
During and after swimming you may feel a little buzz that makes you happy. This is no doubt dopamine. Dopamine is a ‘reward’ chemical that is released when we accomplish a task. It creates a level of motivation and acts as a natural mood lifter- similar to that of serotonin. Dopamine has some negative connotations due it being produced by alcohol, drugs and gambling, However, producing dopamine from exercise rewards positive behaviour and can therefore go a long way towards reducing negative behaviours and addictions.
All this being said, Swimming is the Ultimate Exercise and provides multiple health benefits.