Exploring the health and fitness benefits of swimming.
Swimming is plenty of fun. But are swimming workouts legit exercise? The answer is yes—even more so than you might think. Let’s look beyond the cannonball and learn the many health and fitness benefits of swimming.
FITNESS BENEFITS OF SWIMMING
It's a total-body workout.
While most forms of cardio focus on specific muscle groups, swimming engages your upper body, lower body, and core. It’s an excellent total body workout for toning, strengthening, calorie burning, and overall aerobic fitness.
Yes, swimming burns calories. The exact amount depends on a variety of factors, such as body weight, exercise intensity, water temperature, and type of swimming stroke. As a general estimate, a 150-pound person burns roughly 700 calories when swimming freestyle at a moderate to vigorous pace. This calculator estimates calories burned based on your swim time, pace, and stroke.
It’s an excellent cardio workout.
Swimming requires more breath control than dry-land activities like running, cycling, or fitness classes. With the increased demand for oxygen, your muscles are forced to work harder, and therefore swimming can provide even greater cardio benefits.
It’s strengthening, too.
Water is denser than air, providing moderate resistance as you move through the pool. This means that when swimming, you’ll benefit from a resistance-training workout, with the resistance uniformly distributed across your body. Various swimming gear—such as paddles, pull buoys, and kickboards—add extra resistance and help you isolate and improve certain aspects of your stroke during training.
It's easy on your joints.
People with health concerns where weight-bearing exercise can be problematic (for example, obesity or osteoarthritis) can use swimming as a means to get fit. For pregnant women, swimming is often enjoyed right up until labor, since the buoyancy of water provides a welcome weightless feeling and takes stress off of joints.
It's ideal for cross training or when injured.
As an excellent total-body workout, swimming can be integrated into a cross-training plan to avoid burnout or overuse injuries. If injured, zero-impact swimming is often the only exercise that can be tolerated.
It’s great for active recovery.
Swimming is an ideal option for easy active recovery. Not only does the movement of swimming help stretch out the body and flush toxins from muscles, the cool water can also soothe inflammation.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS OF SWIMMING
It’s the best for your back.
There’s a reason people with back pain often turn to swimming. The horizontal position and buoyancy of swimming can take the pressure off the spine, and the slight arch of your back while swimming can help counteract sedentary time spent sitting at a desk.
It may promote healthy lungs.
While swimming, you breathe in deeply and exhale slowly. This type of breathing may improve the strength of your respiratory muscles. Additionally, research shows that swimming may be linked to greater lung capacity.
It’s good for the mind.
Ask any swimmer about the benefits of their sport and, along with the physical advantages, they’re sure to say it’s a meditative experience. Swimming—whether in a pool or in open water—tends to be calming and a great way to relieve stress.
Swimming workouts are a powerful way to build cardiovascular fitness, gain resistance training with zero impact, and feel refreshed and relaxed. What are you waiting for? Grab your suit and goggles and dive on in!