If you don’t like to sweat in the gym, swim! Swimming is one of the best aerobic exercises (1). Experts recommend this fun exercise as it has innumerable health benefits and is meant for everyone, irrespective of age and skill. You can enjoy swimming with your family, friends, pets or just yourself, anytime, anywhere. Read on to know about the 13 benefits of swimming, safety tips, and guidelines for new swimmers. Swipe up!
13 Benefits Of Swimming
1. Aids Weight Loss
Swimming is a great way to burn calories. And the more calories you burn, the more fat gets mobilized. As a result, you will start losing the extra flab in your body. Korean scientists conducted an experiment on obese children and found that swimming and other aquatic exercises helped reduce fat mass in their body (2).
2. Builds Bone Strength
Bone mass decreases with age, especially in women. Swimming can help prevent bone loss triggered by age and other forms of aerobic exercises. It is also helpful for those with joint pain or arthritis. Scientists conducted an experiment and found that swimming ameliorates osteoporosis, helps improve bone mass, and strengthens the bones (3), (4).
3. Improves Heart Health
The number of people suffering from heart diseases has skyrocketed in the recent past. So, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and feel that going to the gym is dreadful, try having fun in the cool blue water. This aerobic exercise will help improve your heart health and protect you from potential cardiovascular diseases. In fact, various studies have found that swimming is one of the best exercises for keeping your heart in good condition (5).
4. Helps Children With Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a common movement disability in children, and it affects about 4 in 1000 newborns or children of different age groups (6). Exercising can help children with cerebral palsy to improve their motor functions. However, the fun element of exercise also has to work to provide the children with a positive experience. Australian scientists have found that swimming is enjoyed by children with cerebral palsy, and they also did not feel fatigued by it (7).
5. Improves Flexibility
Flexibility is the ability to move your joints to their full range. When you swim, you use your limbs and core to propel your body forward and stay afloat. Swimming every day helps improve whole body flexibility and, as a result, reduces joint pain (8).
6. Improves Body Coordination
It’s a no-brainer that swimming requires a lot of coordination between the legs, arms, head, chest, and eyes. Be it for recreational, therapeutic, or competition purpose, swimming helps improve your whole body movement and coordination between the limbs and the core (9).
7. Lowers Triglyceride In Elderly
The higher the triglyceride levels, the more the risk of heart disease and early death. Scientists conducted an experiment on middle-aged women. They found that women who swam 60 minutes a day for 3 weeks had a better body composition, lost weight, and improved their blood lipid profiles. They also recorded a drop in their blood triglyceride levels (10).
8. May Increase Neurogenesis
Temporal lobe epilepsy is a neurological disease, which is caused by brain cell death. In most cases, antiseizure drugs do not work. In an effort to find alternative treatments, a research study led by Prof. Vasavi R. Gorantla has found that swimming increases neurogenesis in laboratory rats (11).
9. Improves Asthma
Asthma is caused due to inflammation in the airways, which blocks them and leads to difficulty in breathing. Various studies have found that swimming can help reduce asthma attacks. It is also more beneficial than land exercises (12).
10. Improves Sleep Quality
If you have difficulty in sleeping, you must start swimming. Swimming is a full-body aerobic exercise, and if have ever spent some time in the water, you know how exhausting it can be. That’s because your entire body, along with your brain, works constantly while swimming. This is precisely why you will start to sleep better (13).
11. Supports Mental Health
Stress, anxiety, and depression are mental health issues that you should never ignore. Scientists have found that swimming can help uplift mood and treat various serious psychological issues (14), (15).
12. Slows Down Aging
Literally going back in time may not be possible, but swimming can help you look younger. And that’s because it helps uplift your mood which, in turn, lowers oxidative stress in the body. As a result, your body functions normally without slowing down (16).
13. Tones And Strengthens Muscles
You already know that swimming aids fat loss. But it also helps tone and strengthen your muscles. The repeated movement of your legs, hands, chest, head, abs, and neck helps you build slender muscles instead of bulky ones. Plus, your muscles’ strength and power also increase as you practice swimming, which requires you to push your body forward by constantly displacing the water surrounding you.
These are the 13 best benefits of swimming. Did you know that there are various types of swimming strokes? Well, here’s a list of swimming strokes that can help you.
10 Swimming Exercises
- This is one of the fast strokes and is best for beginners.
- Float on the water with your face down, and hands extended above your head on the surface of the water.
- Take your right hand under the water, push the water back, lift your right hand above the water, and bring it back to the starting position.
- Quickly, take your left hand under the water and do the same. Make sure to move your head side to side to inhale and exhale.
- Float on the water on your back. Your hands must be by your side.
- Lift your right hand, move it in a circle, and plunge it back in the water.
- Push the water back so that your body moves forward.
- Recover your right hand to the surface.
- Simultaneously, do the same with your left hand.
- Float in the water with your face down, body flat, and arms extended over your head.
- Keep your arms straight and pull water from above your head to your chest.
- As your palms reach your chest level, fold your arms back and move both of them over your head to the starting position.
- Extend your arms forward, submerge your head in the water, and exhale slowly through your mouth or nose.
- Kick the water backward to help you move forward.
- Float in the water with your face down, arms extended above your head, and palms facing down.
- Pull your arms down and move your hands in a semicircular motion towards your body.
- Recover both your arms in a sweeping motion out of the water.
- Let your hands re-enter the water and come back to the starting position.
- As your arms just come out of the water, lift your chin, look straight, and breathe in.
- Your leg action should be like that of a mermaid. Keep both your legs together, and toes pointed out, and kick downward.
- The second kick should be more powerful to help you move forward when your arms are in the recovery phase.
5. Dog Paddle
- Float in the water with your head up.
- Paddle your hands and legs in an alternative manner imitating how dogs swim.
- Float on your right. Keep your right arm extended, and legs together. Tilt your head up and look sideways.
- Perform the scissor action with your legs. Flex both your legs and move the top leg forward and bottom leg backward and bring them back to the starting position in a circular motion.
- Use your right arm to pull the water from above your head. Your top arm is the trailing arm that helps push the pulled water downward.
So, these are the most popular swimming strokes. Now, here are some tips for you – if you are a beginner.
Swimming Tips For Beginners
Take a look at a few swimming tips and tricks that might help you improve your style of swimming and make you a better swimmer:
- Put your swim goggles on an hour before you get into the pool so that you get accustomed to them. Keep an additional pair of goggles handy. One clear set for cloudy, foggy days, and another dark set for bright sunny days.
- Practice and focus on pulling straight back as you take a breath or roll your shoulder.
- Go in for a pair of swimming fins to help in efficiently kicking without crossing one foot over another.
- Swim fins also help increase the flexibility of your ankles.
- Use a swimmer’s snorkel to help you focus on body rotation and arm strokes with ease.
- Use silicon ear plugs to prevent ear infection and limit irritation.
- Keep a small towel handy for drying, cleaning or wiping purposes.
- Interact with experienced swimmers for guidance and tips.
Let’s now look at some general swimming tips that will help you be a good swimmer.
A Few General Swimming Tips
- It is recommended to select a safe environment, with lifeguards on duty, for swimming.
- Always remember to do warm-up exercises and stretch your joints and muscles before you enter the water.
- Have plenty of fluids handy and always keep your body well hydrated.
- If you are just a beginner, do not overdo swimming.
- See your doctor before you begin swimming if you have a sedentary lifestyle and have not done any exercise in a long time.
Although swimming is a low-impact exercise, swimming injuries may occur due to incorrect technique or over demanding workouts. Some of these are:
- Swimmer’s shoulder
- Breaststroke knee
- Neck injuries
- Lower back injuries
These injuries can be prevented by following these simple rules.
Prevention Of Swimming Injuries
- Always remember to do warm up and stretch before a swimming session.
- After a swimming session, remember to cool down and stretch.
- Develop your functional strength by following a general program.