The benefits of swimming have been understood since at least the time of the Romans. An exercise that's as much fun as it is healthy, it's also one anyone with access to a body of water can do from childhood through old age.
Why Swimming Is Good Exercise
Easy, Low Impact Activity
Anyone can learn how to swim. The basic strokes are very easy to master once you've gotten used to the feel of buoyancy. Since anyone can learn, anyone can then do it. Swimming is an ideal activity for anyone with fitness problems or chronic knee or back injuries because it's so low-impact. In fact, it's often used in therapy for those who have been injured.
People who are obese often turn to swimming to help get into condition and maintain good health, thanks in large part to the low-impact nature of the activity. Likewise, the elderly, who may have frailty concerns, find that they can be confident in a pool and work to regain strength and endurance.
Swimming Burns Fat
Just because you don't feel yourself sweating when you swim doesn't mean you aren't getting a serious workout. Whether you're doing laps or a program such as aqua aerobics, you burn calories while swimming and can thus lose weight and tone your body. The harder you swim, the more fat you burn. Witness Olympic champion Michael Phelps, who must eat 12,000 calories a day while training in order to maintain his muscle.
That may seem extreme, but he trains for five hours a day, six days a week, and swimming in a cool pool will actually burn yet more calories because the body puts in a lot of work to maintain a comfortable temperature. While the average person is not going to have a swimming workout anything like this, the fact remains that swimming is an excellent way of burning fat and keeping it off.
A Relaxing Workout
As intense as it can be, another benefit of swimming over most other regimens is that it is also relaxing and even meditative. Being immersed in water is soothing - that's why taking a hot bath is always such a prime way to unwind. While a proper swimming workout will be strenuous, there is still something soothing about being in the water; sometimes, it can feel like far less effort to swim, not only because of the low impact, but because of the comfort of being surrounded by water.
Additionally, you can't do much else while swimming, such as watch TV, talk or read. Most of the time, you can't even listen to music. While such distractions can help make an exercise routine go more quickly, the lack of them in swimming can be a real boon. You are able to focus mentally in a way that you often can't in other programs. You can focus on your breathing, so crucial to a healthy swim workout, and really come to feel how strong, regulated breathing makes a difference and helps you regulate your stroke. It's no wonder that many people who get out of the pool after an hour or so of a good swim feel refreshed and relaxed, rather than worn out.
Gains You Can Measure
Another of the benefits of swimming is that the focus you have to place on your breathing and strokes means you see improvement soon after you've begun your regimen. Even if you are not counting laps or timing yourself, you will be able to feel your progress. This is especially true if you decide to use swim aids like Zoomers fins, which will add tone to your legs and allow you to perfect your stroke.
Make Swimming a Healthy Habit
Swimming can be a satisfying pursuit because you'll feel great doing it, and feel fantastic afterwards. Truly, this can end up being a lifelong habit.