Swimming is a classic recreational and aerobic activity. Did you know that a regular swimming practice might also help keep you younger and relieve stress?
This post is not intended to substitute for medical or professional advice. We just wanted to highlight some often overlooked and surprising benefits to swimming.
Swimming positively affects several metrics tracked by your Biostrap! In addition, your Bootstrap's Activity Classification system is already set up to track your swimming workouts.
Benefits of Swimming for Fun and Fitness
Fun Aerobic Workout
Do you want to get a good aerobic workout without feeling overheated or sweaty? If so, swimming or other water exercise may be a good option. The water keeps your core temperature from rising too much. This partially why swimming is so popular during summer months.
Like any aerobic exercise, you get out of it what you put into it. You can swim at a leisurely pace for a light, active recovery workout. You can swim sprints for higher intensity intervals. Or you can swim at any intensity in between.
Impact Free and Injury Recovery
Since the water supports your body, swimming is nonimpact. Weight bearing exercise has benefits such as strengthening bones and helping improve density. However, non-impact exercise is kinder to people recovering from injuries or who have chronic conditions like osteoarthritis.
It is also a great cross-training activity for runners and people who engage in impact sports. Using different muscles groups and taking a break from the impact may help joints recover faster and minimize the risk of overuse injuries while still improving aerobic capacity.
Keep in mind that overuse injuries can happen with swimming just like any other activity. For example, some swimmers develop shoulder injuries. You can minimize the risk by warming up, varying your swimming stroke, cross training with other activities, and working in some yoga or flexibility training.
Full Body Workout
Most swim strokes are full body activities. The more large muscle groups and activity uses, the better the challenge to your heart and lungs.
You can get an even better full body workout by mixing it up with a variety of swim strokes. For example, if you are swimming laps, try varying the laps by stroke to decrease boredom and to involve more muscle groups. Try alternating laps between front crawl (freestyle), backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Your Biostrap can recognize and track all these popular swim strokes using the Activity Classification feature!
Swimming May Boost Youth and Longevity
An Indiana University study indicated that older swimmers typically had lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels (especially HDL), better aerobic capacity, healthier central nervous system, maintained better cognitive functioning, and maintained more muscle mass than their non-swimming peers. The youth prolonging benefits of swimming start to become apparent after the age of 35. The study involved adults who participate in the Masters swimming program.
Swimming May Be Excellent Mind-Body Exercise
Avid swimmers often describe swimming as a meditative experience whether they are swimming outside in natural water or swimming laps at the pool. While swimming is not usually considered a mind-body workout like yoga or tai chi it shares a few similarities. For example, swimming requires timed and conscious breathing much like other mind-body workouts.
Swimmers experience a release of endorphins much like other exercisers experience. In addition, some research over the years indicate that activities where you are submerged in water help relieve pain and enhances calm feelings.
Swimming may even make you smarter. The jury is still out but studies indicate that swimming may increase blood flow to the brain by up to 14%. The participants were men who submerged themselves in water up to heart level. There is a theory that it might be connected to the water's pressure on the chest.
Researchers compared changes resting Heart Rate Variability (HRV) between sedentary people who participated in either a yoga program or a swimming program. They found that resting HRV improved for both groups although the yoga group improved a little more. Resting heart rate and blood pressure also improved for both groups.
Swimming is a Lifesaving Life Skill
This benefit may be obvious considering how many parents send their children to swimming lessons. However, if you didn't learn to swim as a child it is not too late. Learning how to swim and stay calm in the water may save a life -- your own or someone else's.
Many swimming classes teach water safety for all ages. These skills helps you boat, play in the water or enjoy the beach more safely. In addition, swimming offers so health, well being and recreation benefits.
Opens You Up to Adventure
A regularly swimming practice gets you fit for adventures competing in triathlons, snorkeling on vacation, surfing, boating, or diving. If these activities don't appeal to you, how about just swimming in lakes, rivers, or the sea? Swimming is a popular summer time recreational activity for people of all ages.
Like cycling, it is one of those aerobic exercise options that also gets you fit for recreation and adventure.
Some of the earlier mentioned benefits apply to other activities, while others are unique to swimming or water-based exercise. Of course, any aerobic exercise that you enjoy is the best activity for you. The key is consistency and maintaining good technique.
Sources and Resources
Why Swimming is So Good for You, Time Magazine
Resting heart rate variability after yogic training and swimming: A prospective randomized comparative trial by Manish Vinayak Sawane and Shilpa Sharad Gupta
Pugh CJ1, Sprung VS, Ono K, Spence AL, Thijssen DH, Carter HH, Green DJ.
Biological Markers of Aging in Highly Active Adults, by Joel M. Stager, Jeanne D. Johnston, Louisa D. Raisbeck and Colleen M. McCracken