Swimming is not only enjoyable, it's also an excellent exercise. A low-impact exercise, swimming is easy on the body's joints and allows a range of motion in the water that is unattainable on land for some people.
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.
An Accessible Exercise
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. The simple fact is that movements in water are easier than on land - they may be slower because of the resistance of the water, but the movements feel less painful or challenging.
Swimming Burns Calories
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. When combined with a reduced caloric intake, swimming can help you lose weight.
A Relaxing Workout
Researchers aren't sure why being in water has such a relaxing effect on people, but they do acknowledge that water helps calm people. For people who feel stressed by the prospect of working out, getting into water can help calm some of that stress. Under water is a quiet, peaceful place. It's also a great option for people who are uncomfortable getting sweaty, as the water cools their skin and whisks away any sweat.
No Special Equipment Needed
Other than a body of water and a bathing suit, no other equipment is needed. Avid swimmers enjoy the simple process of pulling on a bathing suit and then hopping right into the water to get started on their workout. Many people find they are more likely to get a swimming session in than they are a different workout requiring more preparation.
The cardiovascular benefits of swimming cannot be overstated. Stamina and endurance are both trained while swimming, especially when swimming vigorously. Swimming also challenges muscles, strengthening them and making them more accustomed to challenging resistance work. While you're unlikely to achieve hypertrophy (muscle growth) from swimming, your muscles will get stronger. Specifically, these muscles are challenged while swimming:
- Arm and shoulder muscles are recruited while swimming.
- Core muscles are significantly engaged while swimming.
- The muscles of the lower body work hard while swimming, including the glutes and the legs.
Make Swimming a Healthy Habit
Swimming may not feel like an intense workout while you're doing it, but make no mistake about it - swimming can be challenging and incredibly beneficial to your body. Your fitness level will increase and your body will grow stronger, all without having lifted a single hand weight.