Swim your way to improved health and wellbeing
Swimming offers a range of health benefits for the mind and the body. Not only is swimming a full body workout that helps improve cardiac health and muscle strength, it can also help alleviate stress and anxiety whilst boosting your mood and helping you sleep.
Your body naturally gains strength when swimming by counteracting the resistance created by water. At the same time the body burns calories, which aids weight loss, and muscles become toned and lean. However, unlike many other activities, it is low impact and easy on the joints, making it suitable for all ages and abilities, and reducing the chance of injury,
Studies show that swimming for one hour, three times a week, can help reduce excess body weight, improve flexibility, body strength, and decrease cholesterol levels. While the degree of health benefits depends on duration, intensity, and stroke, even moderate levels of swimming show positive results.
Swim for weight loss
If weight loss is your motivation, then it’s worth noting that intense workouts can burn roughly 800 calories per hour, while half hour sessions of moderate intensity burn around 250 calories – although this varies from person to person. Longer sessions, with fewer rests, keep your heart rate elevated, which can help you burn even more calories.
By practicing any swimming stroke, it has been known to benefit your bodies posture and build muscle tone and strength. The butterfly is deemed the most effective stroke for weight loss but is also the toughest to master. It can increase your flexibility, tone your chest, stomach, and arms, and help to build upper body strength.
Freestyle, on the other hand, is considered the fastest stroke and helps to tone your stomach, bum, and shoulders; meanwhile backstroke is one of the most effective at improving posture and is also great for cardiovascular health.
Swim to boost physical and mental health
As well as burning calories, swimming aids weight loss and improves health in other ways. It stimulates physiological processes to create a more favourable hormonal environment, which means food is less likely to be stored as fat and more likely to be used to fuel your muscles. In addition, swimming can boost mental health, and reduce anxiety and depression, which can also help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Water-based exercise is beneficial for pregnant women, can improve quality of life for older adults (with mobility issues or osteoarthritis, for example) and help maintain bone health in post-menopausal women. Swimming also has known benefits for reducing pain and improving recovery after injury: studies reveal significant reductions in joint pain and stiffness, and fewer physical limitations in subjects who swim regularly.
Finally, swimming can significantly improve heart and lung health and reduce the risk from associated diseases, lower blood pressure, and control blood sugar, according to research.
With health and safety in mind – as well as your own physical limitations – swimming is one of the best ways to keep fit, have fun, and enjoy an active life!