Swimming provides a plethora of physical fitness and mental health benefits. The buoyancy provided by water is beneficial to pregnant women and people with arthritis. Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center report that swimming is particularly useful for people who are stressed and suffer from joint problems and exercise-induced asthma. Swimming is an easy way to become initiated into a regular workout regimen because of the low amount of stress it places on your body.
Doctors at the Weight-control Information Network report that people need to do more than 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day to lose weight. Swimming is considered aerobic when you continue with laps that raise your heart rate enough that you are breathing hard and barely able to hold a conversation. Swimming allows beginners to start slowly and build up as they gain endurance and skill. Swimming can burn as much as 900 calories per hour.
Swimming provides low-impact exercise, eliminating the pounding on the bones and joints that occurs in other aerobic exercises like running or rapid walking. Swimming and other water aerobic activities often are included in rehabilitative therapy sessions, report doctors at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Pools designed to provide exercises for people with arthritis often are kept warmer than public pools, which adds to the healing benefits of swimming.
Swimming is an effective exercise to tone muscles. The water affords nearly 12 times as much resistance on muscles as air. Swimming is a total body workout that provides both and upper and lower body workouts at the same time, making it an ideal cross-training tool. Underused muscles are incorporated in the various techniques. Even leisurely swimming involves the use of muscles just to stay above water. Various swim styles can provide greater flexibility and strength to focused muscle groups. The butterfly stroke is an effective shoulder and upper body exercise, while kicking is an effective leg and hip workout technique.
Swimming requires deep breathing, which promotes increased circulation. The heart and lungs are aerobically taxed, which promotes healthy blood pressure levels. Swimming can lower high blood pressure and is an effective option for people who are obese and have trouble participating in other activities.
About this Author
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years’ experience. She has held posts at newspapers and magazines, including the “Greenville News,” “Success,” Demand Studios and “American City Business Journals.” Ray has covered health and fitness, business, sports and people. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in journalism.