The benefits of Swimming are numerous, significant, and undeniable. Swimming can be beneficial to people across a broad range of ages and abilities: the very young to the very old, the very slow to the very fast, those with injuries or degenerative conditions, pregnant women, beginner to serious athletes, and fitness buffs. Swimming positively affects many aspects of life, including physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It,s no wonder that physicians, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, and fitness coaches alike laud Swimming as one of the best ways to stay in shape.
Swimming is the ultimate all-in-one fitness package, working most muscles in the body in a variety of ways with every stroke. When strokes are performed correctly, the muscles lengthen and increase in flexibility. The significant repetition of strokes improves muscle endurance, and because water creates more resistance against the body than air does in land exercise, the muscles are strengthened and toned. Swimming also significantly enhances core strength, which is important to overall health and stability in everyday life. The hip, back, and abdominal muscles are crucial to moving through the water effectively and efficiently. Swimming builds these core muscles better than any abs video or gadget advertised on television. Finally, a properly structured swim workout provides incredible improvements to the cardiovascular system. The nature of breathing when Swimming-with breath being somewhat limited in volume and frequency-promotes greater lung capacity and a consistent intake of oxygen. Both aerobic and anaerobic gains can be made in the same workout.
Compare all this to other activities, which offer benefits to only certain parts of the body or areas of fitness. Running increases cardiovascular fitness and tones the lower body. Rowing builds endurance and strength in both the upper body and lower body. Weightlifting tones or builds strength in the muscles targeted. Pilates and yoga improve core strength and flexibility. But the beauty of Swimming is that it literally does all of the above in every single workout! When you're a swimmer, there's no need to choose each day whether you'll focus on your upper body or lower body, muscular strength or cardiovascular endurance, core strength or overall flexibility. Swimming also is easy on the body, as long as a proper warm-up and cool-down are incorporated into each session. The pounding the body takes during running, high-impact aerobics, basketball, tennis, and kickboxing is replaced by near weightlessness in the water. In short, consistent Swimming tones the body, improves cardiovascular health, and lengthens the muscles, all without breaking down the body.
Swimming is also good for the mind and spirit. The methodical repetition of Swimming combined with its nonimpact nature creates a soothing, relaxing form of exercise. A good swim can clear the mind after a tough day at work, calm the spirit with a sense of quietness to give the brain a chance to sneak up on problems with creative solutions, and give you time to catch up with elusive ideas. Swimming is a great way to be alone in a world that increasingly demands that we be available to anyone and everyone 24-7. Carrying a cell phone or pager is totally feasible on land-and reaching the point where it's almost expected-but you can't swim with a PDA strapped to your chest like a heart-rate monitor. In addition, Swimming for more than 20 minutes or so signals the body to release pain-killing, euphoria-producing endorphins that promote a keen sense of well-being. Regular swim workouts help on an emotional level, too. The discipline it takes to commit to Swimming and to push yourself through tough workouts improves self-esteem, instills confidence that other challenges or hurdles can be overcome, and inspires dedication to taking care of yourself in all facets of life. All of this culminates into feeling really good about yourself, inside and out.
Besides the physical and mental benefits provided, Swimming has many practical advantages over other forms of exercise. As long as lifeguards are present, Swimming is extremely safe. Swimmers don't risk getting hit by a car or chased by a dog; they never have to choose between finishing a workout and being alone in a dark or dangerous area; and they don't have to wonder when the equipment was last sanitized. Also, workouts can be completed with equal ease alone, with a partner, or with a group of swimmers. Environmental conditions are relatively consistent regardless of time of day or year, so the amount of equipment, preparation, or planning changes very little. Swimming for fitness is also relatively inexpensive. The amount of gear can be quite minimal, and the most useful gear is inexpensive and durable. There is no fancy equipment or machine to maintain. The cost of using a pool is comparable to that of joining a gym or health club, and often the facility offers additional perks such as weight equipment or group classes that come standard with facilities that have a pool.