On average, swimmers live longer than non-swimmers, even compared to people who partake in other physical activities. But why? What is so great about swimming that it actually adds years to someone’s life? As swimming professionals, we’ve got all the answers. Read on to discover why swimming is so amazing for your health and well-being.
Swimming is a miracle sport that has fantastic benefits for your body. Here is a list of 11 reasons why swimming can extend your life.
1. Swimming is highly aerobic
Aerobic activity is an exercise that moves your muscles continuously for a long period of time, allowing your heart rate to stay at a moderately high level. When you swim, your arms and legs are moving the entire time you are swimming. Swimming aerobically will increase your lifespan, and here is how:
- When you swim aerobically, your heart rate increases and you start to breathe heavier. This is great for your heart and lungs.
- Aerobic activity is important to the body. It reduces the chance of obesity, lowers blood pressure, and lowers the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. It can even help prevent some types of cancer and fend off sickness.
- Aerobic swimming strengthens your heart. When your heart is stronger, it doesn’t have to beat as much. This means your heart won’t be working as hard to pump blood through your body.
- A healthy heart leads to a healthy life. Studies show that a stronger heart leads to an increased life-span.
2. Swimming can be done year-round and at any age
Because you can swim indoors and outdoors, swimming is not season dependent. Unlike other seasonal sports, swimming does not require good weather conditions to partake in. As long as there is a lifeguard on duty, you are free to jump in the water!
- Since swimming is a very popular sport choice, many young children partake in swimming every day. Not to mention, knowing how to swim is important for safety reasons. Children in swim lessons get great exercise, build social skills, and learn how to save themselves in a water emergency.
- Swimming can also be done at older ages because it is gentle on the body and improves heart health (discussed in point 1). This leads me to my next point.
3. Swimming is low impact
Unlike other aerobic activities, swimming takes place in the water. Water closely simulates a zero-gravity environment. This means swimming is one of the few ways to exercise that is not weight-bearing.
- Swimming is low-impact and safe on your joints. Unlike running and other high-impact exercises, commonly injured areas of your body like knees, spine, and elbows, will most likely remain injury-free.
4. Swimming builds muscular strength
Everyone wants a swimmer’s body, right? It’s easy to see why! Swimmers are known for those killer back muscles and rock-hard abs. Here’s why swimmers have such great bodies:
- Swimming builds muscle much quicker than other aerobic exercises. Unlike other common exercise methods (running, biking,etc.), you have to push and pull yourself through water, which is much denser than air. The resistance of the water builds and tones both large and small muscle groups.
While swimming, your core is always engaged. In order to suspend yourself in the water, you have to tighten your tummy so your core muscles are always working overtime to keep you afloat.
When pulling with your arms, you are working your biceps, triceps, pectorals majors, pectorals minors, and forearm muscles.
When kicking your legs, you are working your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads.
- Different strokes train different muscle groups. By changing up your strokes, you will be able to hit almost every muscle group in your body.
5. Swimming works your entire body
As mentioned above, swimming can work every muscle in your body. Unlike running (which works mostly legs and core) swimming requires every muscle to be firing in unison to propel you through the water. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your workout:
- Switch up your strokes! Each stroke has the added benefit of working different muscle groups. By changing your strokes and making sure you swim every stroke at least once, you will guarantee yourself a well-rounded workout.
Grab a kickboard to zero in on your legs. It’s always great for your workout to focus on certain muscle groups. With a kickboard, you can isolate your legs and do some fantastic work. If you don’t have a kickboard, you can kick on your back. Make sure to do a little bit of every kick to work all the muscles in your legs. Do flutter kick to work your hamstrings, dolphin kick to work your quads, and breaststroke kick to work your shins and glutes.
- Grab a pull buoy to isolate your arms. Using a pull buoy also requires your core to work harder to balance your legs. To mix it up, play with where you put the pull buoy. Keeping the pull buoy between your ankles or shins can be a fun added challenge.
6. Swimming burns calories
Like any form of exercise, swimming burns calories which helps keep you at a healthy body weight. Burning calories is important because if we take in more calories than we need, our body will store the excess calories as fat. Too much fat leads to obesity and endangers health. Swimming helps to burn those calories and keep our body weight at a safe, healthy level.
Carrying too much body fat can cause a slew of health issues. These include diabetes, heart disease, damage to joints, and some forms of cancer. By swimming daily, the chances of being affected by obesity are drastically reduced.
7. Swimming helps you sleep better
Insomnia is one of the most common sleeping issues. Swimming can help with that, too!
- As previously mentioned, swimming is highly aerobic. Exercise (especially aerobic exercise) causes the body’s temperature to rise. When the body’s temperature drops, it makes us feel sleepy. This drop in temperature will aid in falling and staying asleep.
Swimming may be better than other aerobic exercises because it does not cause as much joint pain. Pain in the body keeps people awake. Most importantly, swimming is safe on the back. Back injuries are often a cause of sleep loss.
Sleep is vital to living a long life. While asleep, our body repairs itself, fights illnesses, reduces stress levels, and lowers chances of harmful diseases.
- For best results, make sure you are done exercising three hours before bed and do not consume caffeine five hours before you go to sleep.
8. Swimming improves flexibility
Flexibility and range of motion are important for reducing the chance of injuries. Swimming, unlike many other sports, improves flexibility and range of motion.
The motions involved in swimming lengthens your muscles; the correct swimming technique usually requires a full range of motion. This makes your body and joints more flexible. With flexibility comes a decreased risk of injury and better recovery. By swimming regularly, you will be able to stay active for many years. Here are a few areas of the body that are stretched while swimming:
- Your neck stretches while rotating to breath.
- Your core stretches when breathing, rotating, and pushing off the wall.
- Your back stretches in breaststroke.
- Your chest stretches in butterfly.
- Your ankles stretch while flutter kicking.
- Your knees stretch while breaststroke kicking.
- Your shoulders stretch while swimming freestyle and backstroke.
- Your lats stretch while extending in all strokes.
9. Swimming boosts your mood and helps manage stress
Everyone knows that exercise boosts your mood and helps with stress. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that promote happiness and reduce anxiety and depression. Endorphins also help build self-esteem.
- When you swim, your heart pumps blood and supplies oxygen throughout the body. This yields many benefits - from the ability to concentrate and think more efficiently to increased mood levels. Swimming can give you more energy and productivity throughout the day!
- Engaging in a physical activity like swimming will reduce the amount of stress hormones in your body.
- The methodical and calming movements involved in swimming can be therapeutic. While swimming, you may find yourself working through personal issues, developing solutions, or taking a much-needed mental break from your busy day.
Bonus 1: Swimming is affordable and pools are readily available
Swimming is easy to do! There are pools all over the country and most are cost-effective. Most people will be able to find a pool in their area.
Bonus 2: You can swim with minimal equipment
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to be able to swim. We have a great variety of swim equipment that you can buy. Make sure you bring swim goggles, a swimsuit, and a swim cap.
Bonus 3: Some helpful tips if you are looking to start swimming
Starting to swim will be excellent for your health! Here are a few easy-to-follow tips for getting started:
Start Slow -If you’ve never used swimming as a form of exercise before, don’t expect to swim for two hours straight your first time. Instead, start with 20-30 minutes and increase the duration as you get stronger.
Make a plan -Don’t jump in the pool and just start swimming. Instead, write a workout for yourself! There are plenty of workouts available online for all levels of swimmers. You are more likely to have a productive workout if you go in with a goal for your swim session.
Always warm up and cool down -To keep yourself safe and injury-free, make time for a warm up and cool down. This can be both in and out of the water. Before getting in, take about five minutes to do some dynamic stretching. When you get in the water, take at least 5-8 minutes to swim easy before you start working hard. After you finish your workout, swim slowly for about five minutes to focus on lowering your heart rate. Then, static stretch for about five more minutes. This will help flush the lactic acid out of your system so you feel better the next day.
Mix it up -Monotony is boring! To keep yourself interested, shake things up. Change your warm up, your main set, and your cool down. Try different distances, strokes, and equipment. You can even invite a friend to swim with you.
Make sure you have the right gear -There is nothing more frustrating than trying to swim with a leaky pair of goggles! Before you take to the pool, make sure you are prepared with a good swim suit, a sturdy cap, and a good pair of goggles.
- 6. Try using equipment -There are many different types of swimming equipment available. Here are some you can try
Make it fun -Always remember that swimming should be fun! Do whatever it takes to keep your workout enjoyable and entertaining. Bring a friend. Tune in to your favorite radio station. Swim your favorite stroke or even play water games!
As you can see, swimming has many health benefits that will allow you to live longer.Swimming is a miracle sport - it has many amazing benefits that are able to add years to your life. So, why not start swimming today?
We hope this article helped in answering all your swimming questions. If there are any questions we didn’t answer, be sure to check out our other swimming related articles.
Photo Credit: Bobby Wu, Wisconsin Masters Swimming