A Look at the Health Benefits of Swimming

Exercise is one of the key ingredients to leading a healthy life. In addition to eating healthier and more sensible foods, regularly visiting your doctor even when you are not sick for a routine physical and medical checkup, and managing your daily stresses, engaging in physical exercise can further enhance the health benefits of these activities. Unfortunately, when people think about physical exercise, they always think about the gym, pumping iron, running the treadmill or the stationary bike, or even doing some stretches. They forget that biking, swimming, and running can be as equally beneficial as doing exercises in the gym. In fact, experts agree that the many health benefits of swimming is already equivalent to several gym-based exercises.

Here’s why.

Swimming Helps Improve Oxygen Delivery

One of the many health benefits of swimming is in its ability to help enhance the delivery of oxygen to the different tissues of the body. Because the four limbs of the body are constantly moving and you have to regulate your breathing as well, swimming is one of the best forms of aerobic exercises. The constant limb action of trying to stay afloat and moving your body seamlessly in the water keeps your heart rate up without necessarily reaching an erratic and abnormal pace. An increased heart rate means your heart is pumping more blood and delivering more oxygen to the different tissues of the body. This also helps facilitate the removal of carbon dioxide and other by-products of cellular metabolic processes. The steady, healthy, increase in heart rate can help stimulate the heart to grow its muscle fibers. This improves overall cardiac functioning and efficiency. Over time, the heart no longer has to increase its rate of pumping because the strength of its contraction is already enough to deliver the much-needed oxygen. This is why athletes usually have slower heart rates than normal yet they are still able to meet their metabolic requirements.

Swimming Helps Improve Bone and Joint Health

Performing aerobic exercises in the gym is different from swimming as a form of aerobic exercise. Because of the buoyant force of water, the impact of the surface radiating across the entire length and width of the body is eliminated. The downward force exerted by your weight on the gym floor is also reduced. Technically, the buoyant force of the water is what is lifting your body. You feel much less weight in the water than you are on land. For example, studies show that if you are submerged up to your waist, your body is actually only supporting 50 percent of its own weight. Immerse your body some more up to the chest and your body is only supporting 25 to 35 percent of its own weight. Try immersing your body up to your neck and 90 percent of your body weight is actually being supported by the buoyant force of the water. This means you will feel 90 percent lighter. Because you are lighter, the impact on your bones and joints can be instantly felt. And with warm water, you can further loosen those stiff joints. This can greatly reduce the pain among people with arthritis and other bone and joint problems.

Swimming Helps Strengthen and Tone Muscles

Swimming requires you to propel yourself in the water against resistance. For every cubic inch that your body occupies, this is the same volume of water that you have to work against. In order for you to move from one end of the pool to the other, you need to stretch those muscles and work them against this resistance. It may not be as intense as pumping iron doing all those heavy weightlifting sessions but those are primarily intended for building muscles. Swimming strengthens the muscles making it more toned and in a constant state of partial contraction. This makes it very ready and very efficient. Swimming is an excellent form of resistance exercise

Swimming Helps Develop Flexibility

As a healthy person you would want to be able to move freely. And this means be able to use your joints in their full range of motion. Unlike gym-based exercises where only certain joints are worked at a time, swimming works every joint in your body to improve overall joint mobility and range of motion. This greatly helps in developing flexibility and agility.

Swimming can Aid in Weight Loss Efforts

Did you know that for every 10 minutes that you swim breaststroke you can actually burn as much as 60 calories? For backstroke, it’s 80 calories; freestyle, 100 calories; and butterfly stroke, 150 calories. Now if you are going to increase the intensity of your swimming, you can actually drive the rate of energy expenditure a lot faster. Coupled with sensible dietary habits, and you could be well on your way to a more fit body.

There are other health benefits of swimming. These benefits are all tied to its being an excellent aerobic exercise. So, if you want to lead a healthier life with less impact on your bones and joints, then swimming is an excellent choice.