Swimming is an excellent way to exercise for any age and ability. Here are 5 benefits to swimming that demonstrate how swimming can aid your health and fitness:
1) Low impact
Swimming offers something no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work your body without high impact to your bones and muscles. When the human body is submerged in water, it automatically becomes lighter. If you are immersed just to the waist your body bears only 50% of your weight. Sink to your neck and let the water bear up to 90% of your body weight. This also means that the pool provides an ideal place to work stiff muscles and sore joints
2) Increased Muscle Tone and Strength
Ever see an overweight dolphin? We didn’t think so. That’s because swimming is a great way to increase muscular strength and muscle tone, especially compared to several other aerobic exercises.
Take running, for example. When a jogger takes few laps around the track, that jogger is only moving his or her body through air. A swimmer, on the other hand, is propelling through water, a substance about twelve times as dense as air. That means that every kick and every arm stroke becomes a resistance exercise and it’s well known that resistance exercises build muscle tone and strength.
3) Improved Flexibility
Unlike exercise machines in a gym that tend to isolate one body part at a time (like a bicep curl machine, for example); swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible. The arms move in wide arcs, the hips are engaged as the legs scissor through the water, and the head and spine twist from side to side. Plus, with every stroke, as you reach forward, you’re lengthening the body, which not only makes it more efficient in the water; it also helps give you a good stretch from head to toe.
4) A Healthier Heart
Swimming also helps improve the most important muscle in our bodies: the heart.
Because swimming is an aerobic exercise, it serves to strengthen the heart, not only helping it to become larger, but making it more efficient in pumping, which leads to better blood flow throughout your body.
5) Weight Control
Swimming is recognised as one of the biggest calorie burners around, and it’s great for keeping weight under control.
The exact number of calories you burn, of course, depends on your own physiology and the intensity with which you exercise, but as a general rule, for every 10 minutes of swimming:
- Breast stroke will burn 60 calories
- Backstroke torches 80
- Freestyle lights up 100
- Butterfly stroke incinerates an impressive 150.
To boost the calorie-burning component of swimming, consider using intervals in which you work your hardest for short bursts and then recover.