Looking for an interesting but healthy sport to begin this year? I would personally suggest swimming for the many benefits it brings. Not only is it perfect for the warm summer days, it is actually something you can do the whole year round. After all, indoor pools (some are heated as well!) are open all year round, and with a yearly subscription, it is not too expensive. At the same time, it is one of the most strenuous exercises out there, even when it does not feel like it.
I started my love for the sport when I signed up for top swimming classes in Melbourne. I wanted to finally be able to improve my stroke and I was on the search for an activity where I also get to work out. As I researched about the benefits of going for a swim, I was surprised to discover there are many:
Get a Full Workout
When you go to the gym, you have to do a few exercises or try various machines in order to train your different muscles. On the other hand, swimming is like a full aerobic workout all at the same time. Even better, it does not have as harsh an impact on your skeletal system, because you become lighter the second you go into the water. In fact, when you are underwater all the way to the neck, you are just carrying 10 percent of your weight! This is good news for those who bear excess kilos or suffer from arthritis and find a normal gym routine too tough.
Moreover, arthritis sufferers will find swimming the ultimate sport, because it stretches and strengthen muscles, and gives you an aerobic workout. This is possible even just after a few laps in the pool. When the water is heated, the warmth can also loosen joints that are stiff. Therefore, this is recommended as well for those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Increase Your Muscle Tone and Strength
When you are practicing your strokes, it is like resistance exercise, because of the higher density of water compared to air. And like other resistance exercises, you can very easily achieve better muscle tone and strength. At the same time, it has been proven to bring an improvement in bone strength, a plus for post-menopausal women.
Improve Your Flexibility
Most machines in your gym will only work on one body part at a time. On the other hand, swimming involves a broad range of motion which helps loosen joints and ligaments. With every stroke, your arms, hips, legs, head, and spine are all moving, giving them all a workout. As you also glide through the water, you end up stretching your entire body. This will impact your flexibility in the long run.
Manage Your Weight
In the past, the belief was that any water exercise or sport will not lead to weight loss, because of the cooler temperatures of the pool. But nowadays, this has been reversed. In fact, swimming is now acknowledged to be a great way to burn calories and manage weight.
The number of calories burned depends on the intensity of the exercise and your body. Generally, you burn 60 calories of 10 minutes of the breaststroke, 80 for backstroke, 100 with freestyle and 150 calories burned when you practice the butterfly stroke.
Improve Your Cholesterol Levels
The aerobic power of swimming raises your HDL levels, or what is easily called “good” cholesterol. For every point increase in these levels, you lower your risk of dying from heart disease by 3.5%.
Moreover, research has proven that aerobic exercise keeps the endothelium in great shape. This is the thin layer of cells lining the arteries. As we age, it becomes less flexible. However, those in their 60s who exercise regularly were found to have equivalent endothelium function of those 30 or 40 years younger.
Lower Your Risk of Diabetes
Men reduce their risk of getting diabetes by 6% with every 500 calories burned. For us women, it is even higher. With just one vigorous exercise weekly, we lower the risk by 16% compared to those who are inactive.
Additionally, if you are already suffering from Type 1 diabetes, swimming can increase your insulin sensitivity.
Feel Better and Lower Stress Levels
When you swim, your body releases endorphins, or those chemicals that make us feel good. At the same time, it brings out a relaxation response similar to yoga. This is mostly because of the rhythmic breathing, as well as the stretching and relaxing of the muscles. Lastly, concentrating on the sound of the water and your own breathing helps you clear your mind too.
These benefits can surely encourage anyone to sign up for that swim class as soon as possible. You can easily get hooked on the feeling of being in the water, and how great you feel after each session, just what like I am enjoying right now.
In conclusion, swimming is not only a pleasant and enjoyable exercise, it too can prevent a number of health problems.