Benefits of Swimming: 10 Reasons Why You Should Dive In
Love spending time in the water? So you should! Whether you enjoy taking to the ocean or your local pool, swimming offers a unique range of benefits for your body, mind and more.
Swimming for fitness might seem a bit daunting at first if you’re used to doggy-paddling or relaxing on a pool lilo, but rest assured, you can take it at your own pace and try whatever stroke you feel most comfortable with (you definitely won’t catch us doing butterfly anytime soon).
So grab your swimsuit and towel and let’s go!
Boost your cardiovascular system
From the minute you take your first stroke, swimming is going to get your heart and lungs working. It’s an incredible way to boost your cardio health and overall fitness, and due to the breathing patterns required for swimming, you may also find your lung capacity improves.
Whether your fitness level is high or you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, swimming can feel tiring to begin with, so set small goals and swim at your own pace - you’ll see improvements in no time!
Take care of your health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just two and a half hours per week of aerobic activity like swimming can decrease your risk of chronic illness and early death, and can also lead to health improvements for people with diabetes and heart disease.
In 2017, the British Journal of Sports Medicine pointed to a study by Swim England with evidence in support of the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming. The report explained that water is the perfect place to exercise for all ages, particularly those with long-term health conditions, and it can help older people stay mentally and physically fit, too.
Strengthen your muscles
Although people tend to think of swimming as cardio, it’s also a full-body workout that will build your muscular strength and endurance. No matter what swimming stroke you’re doing, you’re going to use most of your muscle groups to move your body through the water.
Your arms and upper body will be working to propel you forward against the resistance of the water as your core stays engaged to keep your posture straight for a more streamlined swim, and your lower body is busy kicking the whole time!
High health impact, low body impact
HIIT, running and walking are all fantastic forms of exercise, but being high impact, they can put strain on your joints and bones. If you’re looking for something more gentle on your joints or are coming back to exercise following an injury, swimming is a great option, or you can add it into your workout schedule for some variety!
Increase your flexibility
Due to the way your body continuously stretches during each stroke, swimming can help improve your flexibility and mobility which will have a positive impact on all your workouts. Who doesn’t want a better range of motion when they exercise? Even if you don’t swim regularly, this can make it a fantastic tool for recovery, too!
Boost your mood and relieve stress
Like all forms of exercise, swimming releases those feel-good endorphins and can help reduce stress. Many people also find swimming a very meditative form of exercise - being underwater can tune out the sounds and distractions of the world and allow you to focus on your breath and movement. Not to mention the bliss of having some time without screens and notifications!
Get a better night’s sleep
Getting good quality sleep is an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and aerobic exercise has been linked to better sleep. Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine point to evidence that has proven working out can help you fall asleep more quickly and improve your sleep quality — and all you need is 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Swimming could be just the ticket!
Work out without being out of pocket
Swimming in the sea or a lake isn’t going to cost you a cent, and community pools tend to offer affordable membership or casual rates, too. Happy body, mind AND bank account!
Apart from having a good pair of swimmers, a towel and some goggles, you also don’t need any equipment.
Got asthma? Try swimming
According to Partners Asthma Center, people with asthma experience a contraction of their bronchial tubes due to a loss of heat and moisture from the tube walls. Because the air you breathe while swimming is usually warm and moist, the effect on your breathing tubes is less, making swimming one of the best forms of exercise for people with asthma.
Expand your social circle
If you’re looking to meet new people or make exercise more of a social experience, look for swim clubs in your area or introduce yourself to other swimmers at your local pool or beach.
Pool etiquette and tips
Heading to a pool for the first time? Here are a few things to be mindful of to make sure both you and the other swimmers have a good experience!
- Unless you’re swimming first thing in the morning, it’s considerate to have a shower before and after your swim. A quick rinse beforehand will remove any sweat and dirt from your body (no one wants that in the pool!), and a shower afterwards will remove chemicals like chlorine from your skin. It’s also a good idea to go to the bathroom before you get in!
- Check before you start if there is a deep and shallow end (especially if you plan on diving in).
- If you’re swimming in a pool with multiple lanes, check if each lane is for a different swimming speed and pick the one that best suits your abilities.
- Before you get in, watch other swimmers to see which sides of the lanes they swim on and the appropriate side for passing.
- When you enter the water, be considerate to other swimmers. To avoid making waves or causing big splashes, either lower yourself slowly by the wall, or dive in smoothly if you’re confident.
- Stay out of the water if you have any cuts, or use waterproof bandages.
Learning to swim?
Regardless of your age, you’re never too old to learn how to swim! Find a community pool near you and sign yourself up for adult swimming lessons. The instructor will give you all the guidance you need to learn the basics and build your confidence in the water.
Classes like aqua aerobics where you’re able to touch the bottom of the pool can also help you to feel more comfortable and confident in the water. Set yourself small achievable goals and enjoy the process!
To get started, you may want to invest in a good swimsuit, a pair of goggles to see clearly underwater, and a swimming cap if you want to keep your hair dry or out of your face.
Water safety tips
Whether you’re swimming in a pool, a lake or the sea, keeping yourself safe is super important - even if you’re a confident and competent swimmer.
- Make sure there are trained staff and lifeguards present if you’re at a pool, and look for lifeguards or flags if you’re at the beach too - especially if there are waves, strong currents, it’s not a beach you are familiar with, or you are not a confident ocean swimmer. If you’re in the water and need help from a lifeguard, raise your arm straight into the air.
- If you’re swimming in a place where there aren’t any staff or lifeguards, bring a buddy with you who is a confident swimmer in case you need help.
- If you’re swimming outdoors in the sun, remember that the water doesn’t act as protection from the sun so make sure you wear waterproof sunscreen!
- If you’re swimming in the sea or a lake, it pays to avoid being near any stormwater pipes and to check the water quality before you go. Most areas have local websites that supply regular updates. Take caution and consider leaving your swim for another day if the water is murky, as this can be a sign of pollution.
- Bring a bottle of water and stay hydrated. Although the water keeps you cool, you don’t notice if you’re sweating and you may not feel thirsty, it’s still easy to get dehydrated when swimming.
- Have a shower after your swim and always wash your hands before eating.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.