When you exercise regularly, you can improve your health in many ways. But, sometimes physical activity can be a double edged sword.
Even something as simple as jogging for 30 minutes a day can leave your joints swollen and cause great pain.
Thankfully this isn’t true of every activity.
Swimming is not only an activity that practically anyone can do (if you know how to swim), it also allows you to reap the benefits of exercise without having a negative impact on your joints.
And, that’s not all!
There’s a host of benefits that swimming can bring to your body. Some of those benefits overlap the gains that you’ll receive from any form of exercise, and some, well, they’re unique to swimming alone!
1- Joint Friendly
As we mentioned above, an obvious, and often spoken of, benefit of swimming is that it’s an activity that won’t wreak havoc on your joints.
Swimming is (or can be) an activity with the benefits of high intensity exercise without the wear and tear on your joints that other activities can cause.
The American Council on Exercise explains that this benefit is attributed to buoyancy.
Buoyancy causes the effects of your body weight to decrease by 90%. In other words, when you’re swimming, your body…specifically your joints…are only impacted by 10% of your body weight.
This can reduce your risk of injury, and it makes swimming a perfect activity to reap the benefits of high intensity exercise without the damage to your joints that activities like running or jogging can often cause.
2- Muscle Mass Gains
When you swim, no matter which stroke you choose, your body benefits from the resistance created as you move through the water.
The resistance created as you push through the gallons, and gallons, and gallons of water you’re swimming in works most all of your muscle groups (depending on the stroke) which can increase muscle tone.
Here’s a quick look at the four strokes most commonly taught and used in swimming and the muscle groups they work:
Breaststroke – This stroke is known to give you the best total body workout. It strengthens your upper body, back, and chest, can improve lung function as you experience resistance in the chest when you rise out of the water to breathe, and due to the leg movements associated with this stroke, you get a great thigh and lower leg workout as well.
Freestyle – This stroke can also work your entire body, but it greatly focuses on your deltoid muscles in your shoulders, your triceps and biceps, and the muscles in the sides of your back.
Backstroke – This stroke tones your upper and lower back, while working your core, chest, and thighs. It can also help to improve your posture.
Butterfly – Possibly the most challenging of all swimming strokes, if you master this one, you’ll also gain the benefit of an incredible calorie burn! This stroke strengthens your biceps, triceps, shoulders, core, and legs.
3- Mood Lifter
Likely due to the release of endorphins, which is a common effect of exercise, studies show that those who swim on a regular basis have seen improvements in their mood.
Endorphins are also referred to as happy hormones, as their release is linked to positive mood changes.
Research involving dementia patients found swimming to be a mood booster, with individuals seeing noticeable improvements in their mood after participating in a 12 week aquatic program.
Other studies have also found that swimming regularly helped participants to feel less angry, tense, confused, and depressed.
And, animal studies found similar results, showing swimming to act as an antidepressant.
4- Full Body Workout
We mentioned above the benefits to your muscles that you can gain through swimming. But, the fact that this activity is a full body workout deserves a section of its own.
When your whole body is moving through the water, your whole body is getting a workout. And, this isn’t always easy to achieve in other activities.
On leg day as you power through squats and lunges, while your arms can benefit slightly, truthfully you’d have to incorporate arm specific exercises as well to experience gains in your biceps, triceps, shoulders, etc.
And, when running or cycling, while your chest is working hard to breathe, you aren’t exactly going to experience any pectoral toning engaging in these activities.
Granted, with swimming, different strokes work different areas of your body more intensely, but swimming in general benefits your entire body as the water creates resistance when you push your body against it to move.
Toning muscle, building strength and endurance, increasing your heart rate, improving fitness, and reaching/maintaining a healthy weight are all benefits to be had through swimming.
And, swimming can burn calories at a greater rate than some other aerobic activities.
A 160 lb person can burn roughly 314 calories walking 3.5 mph for 60 minutes, while the same person can burn roughly 423 calories swimming laps for 60 minutes at a low-moderate pace.
5- Arthritis Reliever
Aside from the fact that swimming is easy on your joints, some studies have also found that swimming can actually significantly reduce joint pain and stiffness.
Movement acts as a lubricant for joints, and swimming provides the opportunity for such pain relieving movement without the pain that high intensity activities can cause.
6- Blood Sugar Regulator
For those of you who are experienced swimmers, ready to engage in a serious, high intensity, workout complete with cap and goggles, a study conducted in 2016 has discovered that this type of swimming balanced blood glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity.
As these benefits can reduce your risk of diabetes, high intensity swimming can be a great activity to add to your exercise routine if you are struggling to keep your blood glucose in check.
7- Heart Health Helper
And, diabetes isn’t the only disease swimming can tackle.
Studies have shown swimming to decrease carotid artery stiffness while also lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow throughout the body.
As swimming can also be a great activity to aid in weight loss, this can also help to improve the health of the heart in overweight individuals.
And, of course, swimming boasts the same benefits to your heart as any cardiovascular exercise, strengthening the heart muscle and improving circulation.
8- Asthma Relief
For folks with asthma, the breathing techniques required while swimming can potentially improve your lung capacity.
And, the humid environment, at least in regards to indoor pools, can help asthma sufferers breathe a bit easier as well.
*If you do have asthma, as some pool chemicals can be irritants, talk with your doctor before beginning a regular swimming routine in a pool that uses chlorine.
9- Mental Health Booster
Swimming doesn’t only improve mood, but it can boost the health of your brain entirely.
The Griffith Institute for Educational Research studied 7000 children under age 5 and found that those children who were swimming at an early age were able to master skills earlier than what is deemed normal.
And, children who swam on a regular basis possessed greater language, math, and motor skills than those children who didn’t swim.
10- Sleep Satisfier
Exercise, particularly a really good sweat session, is known to improve both your quality of sleep and the amount of time you stay asleep.
Think you can’t get your sweat on while swimming? Think again!
A great workout in the pool (or lake, ocean, etc) can definitely deliver when it comes to sleep.
A study involving older adults with insomnia found that regular aerobic exercise improved both the quality of life and sleep in participants.
And, swimming offers a safe means for aerobic exercise for older adults as it isn’t hard on your joints.
11- Stress Reliever
Life can get busy and crazy at times, and stress often mounds in its wake.
And, while we’ve often heard that any form of physical activity can relieve stress, swimming seems to add a little something extra.
A survey conducted by Speedo revealed that 74% of people polled felt less stressed after swimming.
And, animal studies have shown swimming to even reduce instances of depression caused by stress.
Exercise already decreases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and prompts the release of feel-good hormones (endorphins). But, water based activities are thought to amplify these benefits by adding a soothing element as well.
12- Life Lengthener
As we’ve seen here, swimming certainly can benefit your body in a number of ways, so much so that engaging in this activity on a regular basis may prolong your life.
A study conducted in 2017 found that those who swim on a regular basis could reduce their risk of death by a whopping 28%!
Weird garden drink flushes out high blood sugar
Have you heard?
This delicious drink helps lower the amount of sugar that goes into your bloodstream – even when you eat carbs!
Simply follow these instructions:
- Go into your backyard…
- Pull it out of your garden
- Prepare it using this recipe
Seriously, if you’ve been feeling like trying to keep your blood sugar level where you want it is an expensive, exhausting endeavor…
No matter how carefully you eat that day or how hard you tried to find the strength to exercise…
P.S. Check your blood sugar levels after sipping on this tasty drink.
You’ll be amazed. 🙂