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The Health Benefits of Swimming

You often hear stories about some mature person who swims 20 laps every day and has endless energy. It seems there’s more to it than being sprightly: there are significant health benefits to swimming and it’s a natural choice for those of us with some years under our belt. Let us explore the benefits of this activity.


Lighter Impact

Water buoyancy reduces the impact on our skeletal system. When you’re in the water you feel lighter. This is because the water bears some of your weight. The more you immerse yourself in water, the less weight you will feel, and the less pressure on your body to hold that weight up. From the waist down the reduction is 50% and gradually increases to 90% when you are neck deep in. Warm water also loosens stiff joints and this form of exercise is useful for the overweight or those affected by arthritis.


Restores Mobility

Aquatics are excellent for all ages and diminish many risky factors of regular exercising, such as heat stroke or falling, which makes it ideal for older folks. Water exercising also has the power to give more frail people mobility, which does wonders for both body and mind. Just being in the water helps because water is hundreds of times denser than air, so any movement will allow for more strength to develop by sheer increased resistance.

If you’re not up for swimming laps, you’ll be happy to hear there are more choices. Even walking in the water is tremendously beneficial, and if you’re more social or need motivation by means of an instructor, your local pool or gym might offer water based classes such as aqua aerobics, aqua ballet, or aqua Zumba.


Strength and Muscle Tone

Unlike other forms of exercise, swimming engages and coordinates all the large muscle groups. The stretching and movement of various joints and ligaments allow for increased flexibility. It not only improves muscular strength but works on toning and shaping your muscles. Water-based exercise has also been shown to improve bone strength and density, playing a role in reducing the risk of osteoporosis.


Helps with Asthma Symptoms & Builds Lung Volume

Another added benefit that swimming promotes is increasing lung volume. The practice of regular swimming is thought to teach proper breathing techniques and so increases the potential volume of our lungs. The moist air of a swimming pool proves an optimal location for asthmatics and the swimming itself has been shown to reduce asthma attacks and symptoms such as snoring and mouth-breathing.


Fights Heart Disease, Cholesterol, and Diabetes

It may sound a bit like a miracle drug, but this activity is a valuable exercise for your heart. The heart becomes stronger and better at pumping, which in turn prompts better blood flow. Aerobic exercise reduces high blood pressure and resists inflammatory responses, which helps prevent other heart diseases.


Another health benefit of swimming and aerobic exercise is the lowering of bad cholesterol levels. The ratio between good cholesterol (known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL) and bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) is balanced with aerobics. Closely related to this is endothelium, a medical name for a layer of cells that line arteries, which loses flexibility with age. Aerobics and swimming aid in keeping this strong. 

Glycemic control is improved by swimming too. Type 1 Diabetes is helped as swimming can increase insulin sensitivity, and the risk of developing Type 2 has proven to be reduced with water workouts too.


Calorie Burner

Swimming is one of the best calorie burning forms of exercise. While it does depend on your build and intensity, swimming can significantly reduce body fat. It’s an excellent exercise choice for those of us who are overweight because the water reduces knee and ankle problems that often trouble those with weight issues.


Looking at the various strokes, and their influence, we see that for 10 minutes of swimming the breaststroke, you can lose 60 calories. It goes up to 80 for backstroke, 100 for freestyle and 150 for butterfly.


Mental Benefits & Elevated Mood

Swimming has added benefits besides fighting diseases and strengthening the body. It also engages the mind, relieves stress and generally improves moods. When you swim you are more relaxed and experience a natural high because your body releases endorphins. The deep rhythmic breathing and repetitive motions can be considered meditative, much like yoga. When you swim, something called Hippocampal neurogenesis also takes place, which is just medial jargon for replacement of lost brain cells.

The act of going to a pool can also facilitate the elderly with social interaction. You are less isolated because you have a chance to leave your home and are more likely to engage with other people at the pool, and many swimming groups exist for the more mature to learn together and from each other.

Now you’ve read the benefits of swimming. What are you waiting for? Go hit your local pool, or if you live close to a warm watered sea or lake, dive in. You’ll not only have fun, but might live longer and healthier.


Cover image by Deposit Photos

Related Topics: health, exercise, swimming, aging, healthy, youth
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