Inspired by Adam Peaty’s gold medal-winning performance in the pool in Rio this summer? That’s great news for your health. Swimming is a great way to help you shed body fat and maintain a healthy weight, but the benefits don’t stop there. It will also help improve your resting heart rate and blood flow, relax your mind and build endurance – and with much lower impact on your joints than running, your risk of injury is lower too.
Hitting the pool to do some laps is one of the most effective cardio workouts because it keeps your heart rate high for long periods. It’s also a muscle workout, as the water provides consistent resistance as you power through the pool to work your arms, legs, glutes, core and back, building strength and endurance.
Taking a dip is perfect for shifting your bad mood too – a major study found that swimmers increased positivity by 35% after putting in some lengths. Swimming releases endorphins and relaxes your mind in a similar way to yoga – but with more intensity, the fitness benefits are much greater.
The best thing of all about swimming? It’s ideal for any level of fitness. Pools are split into fast and slow lanes, which means they cater for anyone – whether you’re just starting to get fit to or training for a triathlon. So dive in today.
1. Muscle toning
As water is 12 times as dense as air, swimming is a far more effective way of toning your muscles than any other form of cardiovascular exercise that you can do on land. When you swim you get the cardio part of your workout while also working on an even body tone. Working out in water provides a certain amount of water resistance, which has a similar effect as using a light weight on a resistance machine at the gym. However, submersion in water creates a more even, controlled resistance on the body so there’s no concern about having to count or equalise repetitions when it’s time for lifting. The amount of resistance involved will be relative to the force you are pushing the water with, which allows you to control how hard you’re working with ease.
2. Forces you to work on your breathing
There is a far higher level of moisture present in the air when you’re at a swimming pool in comparison to the dry air that you’ll experience at a gym. The moisture in the air makes it far easier to breath, perfect for those that suffer with asthma and find cardio in the gym or in the park that bit too hard on their lungs. Studies have shown that swimming can vastly improve asthma symptoms, even a whole year after your swimming routine stops. Swimming is not only beneficial to asthma sufferers however, it can also help to increase your lung volume and force you to learn better breathing techniques that can aid you when lifting weights or running.
3. Work out for longer with less stress on your body
As water has the handy habit of supporting your bodyweight, it serves as a great way for people with injuries or those suffering from obesity to get a good workout, without risk of over doing it and causing further physical issues. Swimming is also one of the few sports that doesn’t cause any stress to the skeletal system. When you workout in a pool you are far less likely to make contact with any hard surfaces that may put a strain on your body as all of your motions will be cushioned by the protective barrier of the water. Even better, if you’re swimming in a heated pool, the heat will loosen joints and muscles that will help prevent injuries during your workout.
4. Get flexible
When you’re at the gym you’ll tend to use isolation machines that work specific areas of the body, where as swimming allows you to use a lot of the bodies muscles at the same time. The strokes that utilise a wide arc such as front crawl target a lot of the arm muscles that are missed in basic exercises, while the scissoring movement made with your legs forces your body to use more of your leg muscles in a plethora of fluid motions. Swimming is also really helpful as a way to elongate and stretch out your whole body as you keep reaching further out with your strokes.
5. Mental tranquility
Unsurprisingly the idea of endlessly running around a track or cycling on a stationary bike doesn’t appeal to a lot of people and can actually prove to be quite stressful. Swimming actually boosts endorphins in the body that increase feelings of wellbeing. Studies have shown that swimming produces the same “relaxation responses” as yoga, and the stretching and contracting of your muscles can heighten this experience. Not only does swimming increase relaxation chemicals, it is also highly conducive to meditation.