In Australia, we are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful ocean water and it’s not unusual to be introduced to swimming lessons before we are even walking. Swimming is a popular recreational activity for people of all ages, whether at the beach with friends or participating in competitive triathlons. But did you know there are enormous health and fitness benefits and endless reasons to include swimming in your training plan?
Here are some great benefits of donning that swimwear and getting wet this coming warm season:
Full Body and Lung Workout: Swimming uses major muscle groups from head to toe including back and shoulders, entire core, legs and hips and of course your butt. Also, it’s a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness, lung capacity and keeping your heart rate up! You may not feel the sweat when swimming laps but you are most certainly burning the calories.
A great way to get fit: Great for those newbies who are looking to get fit but may have weight limitations or find other forms of exercise painful. Start out by doing a one length of the pool and in no time you will increase your fitness levels, and the number of laps. Generally you can swim longer than when doing other activities, which means you are not only building endurance but also burning more calories.
Builds strength and Flexibility: While you don’t feel the impact, swimming helps to build strength. Ever tried water aerobics? You will know it’s a lot harder than it looks, and that’s because water is 800X denser than air, forcing you to work a lot harder. 70% of swimming is activated through the upper body, which is great for toning those shoulders and back. It’s also one of the best ways to increase your range of motion and lengthen those muscles.
You have restrictions: Water has great buoyancy which means when you are waist height you are 50% lighter and up to your neck you are supporting only 10% of your weight! For this reason it’s a beneficial form of exercise for those that are injured, have disabilities, doing rehab or even have exercise-induced asthma. Being in the water ‘cushions’ your joints or injury, which would otherwise cause pain when exercising on land.
Good for the brain: A small study conducted by University of WA School of Sport Science suggested that immersing the body in water to the ‘level of the heart’ increases blood flow through to the brain’s “cerebral arteries” which improves your vascular health and cognitive function. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention water based exercise improves mental health, decreasing depression and improving your mood!
Anti-Ageing: Sorry, not the wrinkles, but more importantly a lower death rate. According to Dr Steven Blair at the University of South Carolina ‘swimmers have the lowest death rate” compared to runners, walkers and the sedentary. This was not a small study – done over 32 years and with 40,000 men. Impressive!
Time to get into the pool or ocean, soak up those rays, i.e. Vitamin D but don’t forget that sunscreen!