Swimming is a very good form of cardio, but unlike running and walking, it is sometimes a little less accessible with Lifeguard Training. After all, you need to find a pool supervised by a lifeguard and master some swimming strokes for a dynamic (and safe) workout.
Although swimming takes a little more preparation than other types of training, it offers unique benefits that walking and cycling, for example, don’t give you.
5 health benefits of swimming
Swimming doesn’t give you the same sensory experience as walking, cycling or running, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Swimming even offers some mental and physical benefits over other forms of exercise.
1 . It’s a workout for your whole body
Unlike other endurance sports, swimming is a full-body cardio workout. You use your arm muscles (biceps and triceps) to pull your body through the water and the muscles in your shoulders (delta muscles) and back (latissimus dorsi or broad back muscle) give your strokes extra power and speed. Your core keeps your body streamlined and hydrodynamic, while the muscles in your glutes and legs are active when you pedal and propel yourself in the water.
While swimming doesn’t provide the same strength training benefits as lifting weights, there are ways to add resistance and tone your muscles while swimming. For example, many swimmers use paddles on their hands for extra water resistance and to get a more powerful and efficient swimming stroke.
2 . Swimming can be meditative
Performing repeated, rhythmic movements underwater is meditative for many people. Some even call it mindful swimming.
In an interview with the New York Times, Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion Swimming, explains, “By being mindful while swimming, we can transform the boring lap of a swim into a fascinating form of moving meditation.”
He further suggests that swimmers should have the intention of being fully present in the water and then focus on their breathing and stroke technique. He also says that listening to the sounds of swimming and practicing gratitude can provide additional mental health benefits.
According to an article in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) News in Health, mindfulness practices like these can help people cope with stress, with serious conditions, and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. People who practice mindfulness also report that they can relax better, have a greater zest for life, and feel more confident in themselves.
3 . It can help reduce body fat
Regular swimming training in combination with a healthy diet can help improve body composition (muscle to fat mass ratio). It is important to note that intensive swimming, compared to gentle swimming workouts, generally provides the most benefits.
For example, a study published in 2015 in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found that middle-aged women who swam vigorously for an hour three times a week for 12 weeks lost nearly 3 percent body fat. In addition, the swimmers had better flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and better cholesterol levels.
4 . It is usually a safe, low-impact workout
Many popular individual sports and contact sports carry some degree of risk for muscle and bone injuries. This can be caused by contact with the ground, other players, or equipment, resulting in bruising, broken bones, or even more serious injury. In this regard, swimming provides a safer environment for your workout.
The chance of this kind of injury is minimal while swimming, because moving in water is seen as a low-impact exercise. This is because the effect of body weight is reduced by buoyancy, according to a 2015 article in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation.
However, swimming is not a sport without risks. Depending on the intensity with which you swim, you could, for example, suffer from tendonitis in your biceps or a tear in your shoulder tendon. But injuries aside, there’s another risk involved in swimming in a pool.
According to a report published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, swimming in pools, unlike recreational pools, puts you at risk of drowning and exposure to communicable diseases. Think of infectious diseases that can be passed from one person to another through blood, body fluids, or airborne pathogens.
The good news? The authors also state that careful safety regulations for swimming pools and wellness centers greatly reduce these risks.
5 . It can help improve your blood pressure
Swimming can reduce the risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure. According to a 2018 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, it may actually help lower high blood pressure.
An example of this is a 2014 study that was published in BioMed Research International. In this study, 62 women with mildly elevated blood pressure were randomly divided into three groups: an intensive swimming group, a moderately intensive swimming group, and a control group.
The researchers observed a decreased systolic blood pressure (upper pressure), a decreased resting heart rate, and a decreased body fat percentage in the groups who swam intensively and moderately. No changes were observed in the control group.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, swimming can provide a host of other health benefits. Researchers in a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that swimmers who swam in cold water had lower triglyceride levels, better insulin sensitivity, fewer mood disturbances, and a decreased risk of infections. to the upper airways.