Swimming as a form of exercise
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise because it is gentle on the body. It does not jar your bones or damage your joints, but swimming is still effective for weight loss. Like any cardiovascular exercise, it is necessary to swim consistently for maximum results. Most people who yearn to stay in shape try to do some form of cardiovascular training three to five times a week for 20 minutes or more per session. You may have heard that experts recommend adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Swimming is an excellent way to work your entire body and cardiovascular system. An hour of swimming burns almost as many calories as running, without all the impact on your bones and joints. You should plan on swimming for 30 minutes, then, so that your actual exercise time (as opposed to rest time) ends up around 20 minutes. If you are overweight, you may be concerned about an injury or have a joint condition. Obese exercisers may have achy joints from carrying excess weight. Swimming challenges your body without putting pressure on joints.
Benefits of swimming
- It works on your whole body: One of the biggest benefits of swimming is that it truly works your entire body, head to toe. Increases your heart rate without stressing your body, tones muscle and builds strength and endurance. There are various strokes you can use to add variety to your swimming workout, including: breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke, butterfly, freestyle. Each focuses on different muscle groups, and the water provides a gentle resistance. No matter what stroke you swim, you are using most of your muscle groups to move your body through the water.
- Works your cardiovascular system: While your muscles are getting a good workout, your cardiovascular system is, too. Swimming makes your heart and lungs strong. Swimming is so good for you that researchers share it may even reduce your risk of death. Compared with inactive people, swimmers have about half the risk of death. Some other studies have shown that swimming may help lower blood pressure and control blood sugar.
- Is appropriate for people with injuries, arthritis, and other conditions: Swimming can be a safe exercise option for people with, arthritis, injury, disability, and other issues that make high impact exercises difficulty. Swimming may even help reduce some of your pain or improve your recovery from an injury. One study showed that people with osteoarthritis reported significant reductions in joint pain and stiffness and experienced less physical limitation after engaging in activities like swimming and cycling.
- Torches calories: Swimming is an efficient way to burn calories. A 160-pound person burns approximately 423 calories an hour while swimming laps at a low or moderate pace. That same person may burn up to 715 calories an hour swimming at a more vigorous pace. A 200-pound person doing the same activities would burn between 528 and 892 calories an hour. A 240-pound person might burn between 632 and 1,068.
- Improves your sleep: Swimming may have the power to help you sleep better at night. In a study on older adults with insomnia, participants reported both a boost in quality of life and sleep after engaging in regular aerobic exercise.
- Boosts mood: Researchers evaluated a small group of people and saw an improvement in mood after participating in a 12-week aquatic program. Swimming and aquatic workouts are not just psychologically beneficial for people. Exercise has been shown to boost mood in other people, as well.
- Helps manage stress: Researchers surveyed a group of swimmers immediately before and after swimming at a YMCA in New Taipei City, Taiwan. Of the 101 people surveyed, 44 reported being mildly depressed and feeling stress related to fast-paced life. After swimming, the number of people who still reported feeling stressed decreased to just eight. While more research needs to be done in this area, the researchers conclude that swimming is a potentially powerful way to relieve stress quickly.
- Swimming is safe for most people. As with any workout, there are certain risks associated with swimming. If you are injured or have certain medical conditions, be sure to check with your doctor or physiotherapist before swimming laps. In general, it is a good idea to check in with your doctor or physiotherapist whenever you start a new exercise program.
- People with skin conditions like psoriasis, for example, may get more irritated in the chlorinated pool water. Your doctor is your best resource for guidelines unique to your health.
If you are just getting started with an exercise program or if you are looking to try something new, jump in the pool. Swimming has a host of benefits for your mind, body, and soul.
Once you get the basics down, try swimming laps for 20 to 40 minutes at a pace that keeps your heart rate elevated. Do not forget to drink plenty of water and take breaks, as necessary.