Swimming’s top 5 health benefits: why it’s the perfect sport

November 6, 2014

Regardless of age, swimming is the perfect workout: it's gentle for the body and mind, yet great at getting results. So what are five health benefits of this sport you can look forward to?

Swimming’s top 5 health benefits: why it’s the perfect sport

1. Weight loss

The Mayo Clinic estimates that swimming allows your body to burn approximately 423 calories every 60 minutes if you weigh about 160 pounds. If you weigh 240 pounds that shoots up to 632 calories every hour!

  • At first, you should swim for short periods and rest between laps until your body builds up endurance.
  • Splitting the time you swim with a period of rest still helps your body lose weight without overworking it.

2. Increased muscle tone and strength

Swimming is resistance training for almost every muscle in the body.

  • With every kick of your feet and stroke of your arms, the water creates resistance that forces your body's muscles to work.
  • Over time, your muscle tone will improve and they will become more defined.

3. Better heart and lung health

Swimming is an aerobic exercise and is a common cardiac rehabilitation activity at some hospitals.

  • Swimming can help to improve circulation, lower resting heart rate, facilitate breathing, diminish cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure.
  • People with asthma also benefit from the moist air that a pool environment creates. Their lungs tend to function better and expand easier while swimming.

4. Reduced pain from arthritis and other joint disorders

People with arthritis and others who have a variety of joint disorders often experience pain when walking, running or doing other forms of aerobic exercises because their joints are jarred. In the water, however, they can easily exercise the muscles and tendons around the inflamed joints without causing undue discomfort.

  • The effect of being being partially buoyant takes some of the weight (and stress) off their joints. The result? Reduced pain.
  • The added range of movement that the water allows also helps maintain bone health to better combat degenerative disorders like osteoporosis.
  • Physical therapists often use swimming as part of a treatment protocol to help people who have experienced physical injuries regain mobility.

5. Greater stress reduction

Water is often soothing, which helps reduce physical and mental stress as the brain releases calming endorphins into the bloodstream.

  • Many people compare the relaxation they attain during swimming to the relaxation they experience while practicing yoga.
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