Last updated on March 30, 2017
As the fourth most popular sports activity among Americans, studies show swimming is an excellent workout. It’s an effective way to get regular aerobic exercise, especially for people with disabilities. People who swim report enjoying water-based exercises more than exercising on land because they can exercise longer in water without muscle or joint pain and without increased effort. People who participate in swimming have about half the risk of death than those of who are inactive.
Swimming for only two and a half hours per week can help improve health for those who live with diabetes and heart disease. Since swimming uses nearly all your muscles, it is an excellent way to tone your body and build strength as well as maintain healthy heart and lungs. Swimming can also reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses.
Swimming is an ideal exercise choice for people suffering arthritis. Water-based exercises such as swimming help improve the use of affected joints without aggravating existing symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that people living with rheumatoid arthritis experience added health improvements after participating in water-based exercise than with other forms of physical activity. Swimming is also a great way for people with musculoskeletal problems and exercise-induced asthma to enjoy physical activity.
A report from the University of Maryland Medical Center shows when combined with stress management techniques, swimming can provide an effective distraction from stressful events. Swimming can also reduce the harmful effects stress has on blood pressure and on the heart.
Improved mental health
Swimming as a form of warm water therapy has been shown to have positive affects on mood in both men and women by decreasing depression. While water-based exercises have positive mental health effects on pregnant women, children with disabilities find swimming helps improve their family connections.
Swimming offers a natural resistance. Compared to exercising on land, water provides 12 to 14 percent more resistance, offering a continual resistance to every move you make. There is also the buoyancy factor. The property of water allows people to do exercises that they would find difficult to do on land. Since 90 percent of your body is buoyant when you’re in water up to your neck, there is no jarring or pounding against your body. People who swim find this form of exercise less overheating since water disperses heat.
Swimming also benefits people by improving endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular and overall physical strength. Older adults will benefit greatly from swimming with improved mental and physical wellness as well as a decrease in disabilities. In general, swimming improves stability and coordination, mental relaxation, offers a low-impact activity for arthritis patients, reduces depression and anxiety in fibromyalgia patients and increase bone densityin post-menopausal women.
Regardless of your age or ability, swimming is a healthy physical activity that can be enjoyed year round.