Lap Time: The Benefits of Swimming

Why is swimming so good for you?


Swimming may be one of the world’s greatest sports, but it’s also an exercise that offers plenty of health advantages. Here are the major plus-points of swimming, guaranteed to have you grabbing your goggles and running to your nearest pool!


An inclusive workout


“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” Hands up if this catchy tune from Disney’s animation classic Finding Nemo comes to your mind whenever you spot a pool. Like the movie’s ageless appeal, swimming boasts an all-inclusive nature as well. Whether you’re an expectant mother, a young amateur or a seasoned athlete, you can always reap the benefits of swimming. 


While pregnant ladies and elders with mobility issues can benefit especially from low-impact movements, swimming also allows a wide range of movements, so you can tailor your exercise according to your health targets. 


Swimming works your whole body


At a loss for which muscle group to train today? Why not all of them, even the ones you often miss? Think about it—as you propel your body through water, you are pulling and pushing, stretching and twisting. You are engaging your arms, legs, core, lower back, upper back, shoulders, obliques … you get the point! As the denser medium, water provides a greater chance for full-body resistance training, more so than land-based exercises. In addition, by increasing one’s range of movement, swimming also improves flexibility over time. 


Up for a high-intensity workout? Try an intense burst of speed swimming at 80% of your maximum heart rate for maximum calorie-burning effects. But, don’t be surprised to see even professional athletes taking a slow paddle. Slower swimming also doubles as a form of resistance training for toning muscles and building endurance. 


Gentle exercise for post-injuries


What do athletes do on their rest days? In between intense training sessions, sporting professionals will often head to the pool to complete a couple of laps. Immersing the body in water immediately removes up to 90% of the weight it bears on land, instantly relieving excess pressure on joints. 


This is why athletes recovering from an injury use swimming as a chance to work on stiff muscles, without causing additional strain. The same applies to those of us with muscle sores and stiff backs—the feeling of lightness in water loosens our joints and muscles, while also stimulating our connective tissues to boost recovery. 


Swimming through the growing up years


Sign up sheets for swim classes are especially popular among parents, who are eager to get their children in the pool at the youngest age. And for good reason: Children who swim are more likely to develop motor reflexes and cognitive functions faster than those who do not. 


Swimming from a young age is also key for lung development. The practice of having to take in deep breaths trains children to use oxygen more efficiently and increases their lung volume. Such breathing exercises and healthy lung development are useful for improving physical endurance for other activities, long after a child graduates from swim class. 


What is even more interesting, is that swimming is the number one sport for children suffering from asthma. Unlike dry air inhaled during land-based exercises, the moist air above the water surface does not aggravate bronchial tubes, while breathing techniques from swimming play a role in alleviating asthmatic symptoms over time. 


An exercise that lets you age well


Fountain of youth? More like a pool of youth! Swimming is also a popular exercise among seniors for boosting overall health. Engaging all body parts at once stimulates blood circulation throughout the organs, combating age-related bodily inflammation. Swimming also balances cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. On top of that, as a low-impact exercise that seniors can easily participate in, swimming is an effective way to maintain essential muscle mass throughout one’s later years. 


Swimming makes you feel good 


Instead of fretting over your endless to-do list, keep your anxieties at bay and give yourself that much needed mental break by doing some laps in the ppol. From unlocking those happy endorphins, to partaking in the almost meditative release of air bubbles alongside rhythmic breaths underwater, the exercise removes you from your distractions. Reduced stress levels and gentle stretching exercises are associated with improved sleep. So really, if you’re still not in the pool, what are you waiting for? 


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