Many people turn to the gym or running to get fitter but there are other options. Find out the benefits of swimming as a form of exercise.
While swimming can still be great, one potential disadvantage you do want to keep in mind is that going to the pool could require a good amount of extra time. After a few workouts, this adds up.
1. Swimming can improve cardiovascular health
When swimming, your cardiovascular system has to work harder than usual to extract oxygen from the air and move this oxygen, nutrients, and waste products to the right places in your body.
Similar to many other body parts, doing this intensely enough (but not too intensely) can actually strengthen your heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Something to note is that if you have been inactive for a while, it tends to be smart to start with light swimming sessions.
As your cardiovascular system gets stronger, you can challenge it more and more.
2. Swimming offers a low-impact workout
Choosing a workout is not always about finding the option that offers the most benefits in the shortest amount of time. Another area to keep in mind is what your body can deal with.
More specifically, certain workouts like running can be hard on your ankles, knees, and lower back.
For more advanced exercisers, running can actually be better than swimming for strengthening certain areas.
However, for people who are new to exercise and/or have a few pounds to lose, these more intense workouts can also lead to injuries instead.
If you are in these categories or simply injury-sensitive, it can be smarter to do a low-impact workout like swimming instead.
In this, your body will not really experience any high-impact shocks.
Swimming is so good in this area that in a survey of the European Knee Associates, this activity was one of the five recommended forms of exercise to do within the first 6 weeks after a knee replacement (together with walking, stair climbing, water aerobics, and static cycling) (4).
3. Swimming can improve muscle endurance
For most people, swimming is a cardio exercise, not a muscle-building workout.
At the same time, working your muscles with swimming can still improve muscle endurance, make the muscles healthier, and slow down degradation.
Exactly what muscles you work with swimming will vary from style to style. That being said, some of the muscles that typically have to generate a lot of power are:
- Glutes (butt)
- Hamstrings (back thighs)
- Quadriceps (front thighs)
- Latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back)
- Deltoids (shoulders)
One thing to note is that you should see the muscle engagement during swimming more as a positive side effect of your cardiovascular workout.
If you are serious about this benefit you would do resistance training exercises instead. Even simple movements with resistance bands can offer nice effects.
4. Swimming can benefit weight loss
Having excess body fat is not good since it tends to reduce the risk of a variety of negative conditions. Luckily there are also ways to prevent this from happening and reduce the amount.
One way to approach this is by increasing your energy usage.
Swimming can help weight loss since the movements involved are more intense than typical daily activities.
You can even roughly estimate how many calories swimming burns aka how much extra energy it helps you use.
Some rough estimations are that the average person will burn around 236 to 406+ calories while swimming crawl for 30 minutes.
One important thing to note is that whether swimming burns belly fat or just fat from other areas will also depend a lot on your habits in areas like nutrition.
Moving more intensely is no guarantee for losing weight.
5. Swimming can improve your mood
It can be easy to forget that your mood and thoughts are not only the result of things going on inside of your head. What you do with the rest of your body can influence these things too.
On top of that, after reading all the other benefits on this list, you will likely also feel better after swimming because you did something that offers so many positive effects.
6. Many people find swimming enjoyable
Another detail you want to keep in mind when putting together an exercise routine is what you actually like doing.
Many people struggle to stay consistent with their workout routine because they don’t really enjoy the exercises they do.
On the other hand, if you enjoy swimming, you will likely find it at least a little easier to do your workouts consistently.
And if you don’t really enjoy this form of exercise, there are many effective alternatives to swimming too.
7. Swimming can help you sleep better
Most people are vaguely aware that quality sleep is good for general health but it can really make a big difference in mood, cognitive function, building muscle, risk of a variety of conditions, etc.
A challenge with this is that not everyone knows how they can improve the quality and duration of their sleep.
This alone could make it worth implementing more swimming sessions (or other forms of exercise) in your weekly routine.