Swimming – the Ultimate Exercise
14 Reasons Why Swimming is the Ultimate Exercise
Choosing an activity to keep you fit and healthy can be tricky. Running is tough on your joints, weights can require a training partner and cycling 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 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 cardio and resistance elements 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, hence the reason why hunger levels are usually very high right after jumping out of the pool, metabolism is through the roof. Olympic swimmers often consume up to 10,000 calories per day to fuel their training. to put that in perspective, it’s 4 or 5 times more than the average person. 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’re a generation of ‘sitters’ we sit at school, then at work, then at home, we spend lots of time sitting, often slouched with poor posture. Swimming encourages correct posture and core engagement, 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. Swimming is the perfect exercise for recovery and reducing lactic acid/toxins out of the muscles.
There’s four main swimming strokes, mastering them requires skill and technique. As you develop your swimming skills, balance, timing and co-ordination all improve.
9. Pre & Post-natal Support
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 Illness
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 suffer with illness or disease, swimming could be a great way to reduce the symptoms and start the road to recovery.
Psychological Benefits of Swimming
11. Self Esteem
Swimming helps build confidence and raises self-esteem through positive emotions. During exercise endorphins are released by the body and interact with the receptors in your brain. Endorphins can have a profound effect on mental well being 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 to swim a few lengths, notice the uplifting feeling and change in mood as you do.
Swimming at high intensity causes your adrenal glands to produce a hormone called norepinephrine. When increased levels of norepinephrine are pushed through your bloodstream there’s usually a spike in alertness. Let’s say you have an important interview or presentation coming up, a high intensity swimming session could be just what you need to prepare mentally. This partly explains the popularity of high intensity interval training.
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’s released when we accomplish a task. It creates motivation and acts as a natural mood-lifter. Dopamine has some negative connotations as it’s usually associated with alcohol or drugs, but producing it naturally through exercise is completely different. Natural dopamine production rewards positive behaviours and can help reduce negative behaviours and addiction.