Harvest the Benefits of Swimming
by Jenelle Lockard
Summer may be at an end, and fall is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean swimming season is over. On the contrary, Swimming is considered a Winter Sport for high schools and colleges and what better way to beat the winter blues then take a dip in the pool. Besides beating the winter, or any blues, swimming has a number of other health benefits that includes improving your mood, your health, and your body. Below is a list of benefits compiled by Livestrong.com, Discovery Health, CDC, Arthritis Today, University of South Carolina, American Council on Exercise, and many others, on the effects of swimming. So welcome fall and harvest those benefits swimming has to offer.
Low Impact Exercise
Swimming provides a low-impact exercise, eliminating the pounding on the bones and joints that occur in other aerobic exercises. Because you are more buoyant in water you can move joints while bearing less weight. Fun Fact: Buoyancy of water can reduce your “weight” by approximately 90%- American Council on Exercise
Swimming uses most of your large muscles and many of your smaller ones, working them in a sustained, rhythmic fashion. This challenges your heart, lungs, and circulatory system to work harder to deliver oxygen and energy to all these working parts, thus making you stronger and healthier. Fun Fact: Swimming can lower blood pressure.
Come on, get happy, swim! Studies have shown that swimming can improve your mood and decrease anxiety and depression. Swimming releases feel-good endorphins giving you a natural high. Fun Fact & Added bonus: Swimming can improve your brain through Hippocampal Neurogenesis a process in which the brain replaces cells lost through stress.
Water provides resistance that makes muscles work harder making swimming a total body workout. Swimming provides both upper and lower body workouts at the same time making it an ideal cross-training tool. Swimming even works under used muscles and adds lean muscle mass. Fun Fact: Water is 12 times denser (more resistant) than air.
Calorie Burn & Weight Loss
As a general rule, for every 10 minutes of swimming: the Breaststroke will burn 60 calories; the Backstroke torches 80; the Freestyle lights up 100; and the Butterfly incinerates an impressive 150. For effective weight loss swim a minimum of 30 mins 2-3 times a week. Fun Fact: An hour swim can burn 500-900 calories.
Researchers at the University of South Carolina followed 40,547 men, ages 20-90, for 32 years and discovered that those who swam had a 50% lower death rate than runners, walkers, or men who got no exercise. Researchers concluded that same could be said for women. Fun Fact: Swimming can reduce your biological age by 10-20 years.
Since swimming uses most of your joints and muscles a result of swimming is increased flexibility. Joints will move smoother, easier, and with greater range of motion. Swimming works on your intermuscular coordination which refines movement for maximum effectiveness. This increases overall coordination through the body and its posture.
Breathing, during swim, requires you to pace taking breaths, resulting in deep breaths and more lung capacity. Blowing out air in the water requires overcoming hydrostatic pressure improving lung strength. Swimming in a horizontal position maximizes your lung function.
Swimming can deliver the aerobic exercise needed to ward off Diabetes. Example: 30 mins of Breaststroke swimming 3 times a week can burn 900 calories- reducing your risk of getting type 2 Diabetes by over 10%. Already have type 1? Swimming can be helpful as it aid in increasing insulin sensitivity.
Swimming aerobic qualities can help balance out you HDL (good) and LDL (bad) Cholesterol. Aerobic exercises like swimming can raise your HDL levels along with keeping your Endothelium in good shape. Endothelium is the thin layer of cells that line your arteries. Age decreases the cells flexibility but aerobic exercise causes them expand and contract, keeping them fit.
Swimming has long been touted as the best exercise for Arthritis. If you suffer from Arthritis it is important to keep your joints flexible but the pain can make it difficult. Water reduces the stress on painful joints. Swimming and Water Aerobics keep your joints limber and increase your range of motion. Plus the feel of the water can be soothing and give you a physical and mental boost.
According to American Family Physician, 3 out of 4 senior citizens do not get enough exercise. The best part about swimming is that you are never too old for it. Swimming is actual beneficial to seniors cause is doesn’t put stress on the joints and muscles. Swimming also increases bone density reducing a risk of a broken bone if you fall.