Swimming is one of the most popular sports in the US today. With well over 400,000 members on the USA Swimming registry, it begs the question: what is so great about swimming? In this article, we will explore that various and diverse ways that swimming can positively impact your overall health and well-being.
Swimming works virtually every muscle in the body and engages muscles that aren’t typically used in other sports or exercises. Unlike running, an activity that largely builds leg muscles, swimming requires a multitude of different body groups to move throughout the water. The muscles in your legs, hips, and glutes, for example, are constantly engaged throughout the repetitive up-and-down kicking motion, while your chest, biceps, triceps, and back muscles are worked with every stroke you take.
More than anything, swimming is a wonderful way to build core strength. The alternating kicking-stroking motion is all powered by the muscles in your core – your abs, hips, and lower back. Strokes like freestyle and backstroke require you to pivot through your core which can be incredibly effective in developing chiseled, ripped abs.
Like other exercises, swimming is a great way to boost endorphins – the “happy” chemicals in your brain. The more you’re able to increase your endorphin levels, the less stress you’ll feel and the better your mood will be. Unlike other exercises, however, swimming has its own unique way of releasing endorphins. Because water has a beneficial way of dulling the amount of sensory information that constantly pummels your body on a daily basis, being in the water brings a sense of weightlessness and calm that can relieve feelings of depression and further boost your sense of happiness.
The cardiovascular benefits of swimming are plentiful, but perhaps one of the greatest is its ability to reduce the type of harmful inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis build-up in the heart. Because swimming is such an aerobic activity, it can also eliminate the type of inflammation that leads to the rapid progression of diseases in other areas of the body as well. People with arthritis, for example, can greatly benefit from the swimming as it can help reduce joint pain and stiffness that’s often present in parts of the body.
Though it’s common knowledge that swimming is a great way to burn calories, many people don’t quite understand the capacity at which these calories are eliminated. Depending on the type and intensity of your swimming workouts, you can burn as much or more calories than you would if you went for a long run and you won’t be putting a damaging strain on your ankles, knees, and hips.
Furthermore, with swimming, you don’t have to worry about sweat getting in your eyes or ruining your shirt. To put things in perspective, a 10-minute run can burn around 100 calories. A 30-minute moderately-intense swimming session can burn 150 more calories than if you were to run a 5K in half an hour.
While we’ve explored how swimming can have a positive impact on things like stress and depression, research has shown that children who grew up taking swimming lessons show better results in language development, fine motor skills, confidence, and physical development than kids who were described as non-swimmers. Researchers also believe that swimming can also help improve math skills, as participants have to regularly calculate distances swam, set times, interval drills, and more.
The aforementioned benefits of swimming hardly graze the full spectrum of just how advantageous this sport can be. If you’re interested in learning more about swimming, how you can benefit from it, ways to improve your skills, and more, check out the wealth of information on our SwimJim blog site, today.