A lot of people equate swimming with play. It’s recreational, it’s fun, and yeah, it can be a workout, but that’s only for those competitive swimmer types. They may ask themselves: Is swimming actually good exercise for someone like me? The truth is that swimming is not just good exercise; it’s the best! And one of the great advantages of swimming is that just about anyone can do it.
You don’t have to look like Michael Phelps in the water or even be able to do all the strokes. Any type of movement or workout you do in a pool is going to be a good one. That can include swimming laps using various strokes, but can also be as simple as walking across the pool, using floating devices like in water aerobics, or even dog paddling. Here are just some of the reasons why swimming is the best exercise:
Excellent Cardio Workout
Anyone who has spent time swimming knows that it’s a great way to get your heart rate up and keep it up. Water provides a natural resistance against the movements of your body. This means that every move you make requires more effort than usual, requiring your muscles, and heart, to work that much harder. Getting and keeping your heart rate up is crucial for having a healthy heart and swimming is an ideal way to do that.
Super Low Impact
Other forms of exercise can get your heart rate up too. But nothing will be as low impact on your bones and joints than swimming. Running, biking, and boxing are all great, but those sports take a considerable tax on other parts of your body. Pounding pavement while running is hard on your bones. Lots of cycling is hard on your knee joints. Swimming, however, has next to no impact. This means you can save your joints and bones from a lot of wear and tear without sacrificing your cardio.
Whole Body Workout
Another advantage to swimming is its well-roundedness: One hour of swimming will work all your major muscle groups. Running mostly just works legs while weight lifting only engages targeted muscles. But swimming incorporates them all; arms, legs, shoulders, chest, and upper back. Swimming is also especially good for working out your core, to include abdominal muscles, which significantly affect balance, posture, and coordination.
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Wonders
Swimming works wonders for your heart, blood flow, and lung efficiency. That combination means that your blood can take in more oxygen and flow better through your body. Oxygenated blood is crucial to overall health and just feeling good. Studies also suggest that the benefits of swimming also lead to lowered blood pressure and controlled blood sugar.
Works For Everyone
Swim workouts are especially well-suited for people with arthritis, injuries, the elderly, or going through physical therapy. The combination of low impact exercises that still allow for a high heart rate and engages major muscle groups provides a chance that other sports or exercises cannot. Additionally, exercises in the water mitigate the risk of falls or tripping that could lead to injuries. Water workouts swimmers find in therapy-like environments also help exercise the stabilizer muscles that are critical for balance in and out of the pool.
But Does It Burn Calories?
Yes! An hour of swimming will burn about as many calories as an hour of running. But funny enough, most people find an hour of swimming to be much more appealing than an hour on a treadmill. And that means you can burn the same calories without the detrimental impact on your bones and joints.
Like other forms of exercise, swimming is shown to be a great stress reliever. It also helps improve an individual’s mood and is conducive to getting better sleep at night. All of those factors contribute to a significant improvement in mental health and resiliency. Plus, it’s always good to keep fresh on an important life skill such as swimming.
Again, you don’t have to be a pro-competitive swimmer to get a great workout in the pool. Bless my 91 year old grandmother, she stills gets up every morning at 6am to go do water aerobics at her local pool with a dozen other senior ladies. She’s doing something right. Whatever your age, situation, or skill level, there is a great aquatic exercise waiting for you.
If you’re not sure how to design a workout that’s right for you, get started with a local Sunsational Swim Instructor who will teach you how to develop great workouts for your time in the pool.
Briant Jacobs’ bio:
Swim Instructor in Tucson, AZ
Hi there, I'm Briant and I've taught/coached swimmers of all levels from ages 2 - 65 for over 12 years. I've been a lifeguard, water safety instructor, swim instructor, and competitive swim coach. I swam competitively for 14 years and played water polo for 4. I love teaching all levels, from fearful beginners to advanced competitors. I graduated from Georgetown where I studied law. I'm also fluent in Spanish, love Ben and Jerry's, and have yet to meet a swimmer who couldn't reach their goals.