If you are lucky enough to have your own pool and the weather to enjoy it at the moment then obviously with public pools, gyms and parks closed for so many of us, you are lucky indeed. The pool is a great option with regard to maintaining or improving your fitness levels.
Like most exercise programs swimming increases energy levels, burns calories and decreases the risk of disease. But swimming itself offers so much more!
Marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols found the just the presence of water lowers stress, decreases anxiety, improves overall happiness and helps people sleep better. Being submerged in water dulls the amount of sensory information that bombards your body, helping to bring on feelings of calm, according to a study published in Pain Research & Management. Researchers found that regular flotation tank sessions were effective at relieving symptoms in patients suffering from conditions related to chronic stress.
I must admit I try and swim every day. I have found as my body has aged, swimming is the gentlest on my joints but still provides me maximum benefits with regard to my overall fitness.
I will agree with Dr. Nichols though, when I start swimming my mind literally wanders in and out of thoughts but I also gain clarity. I feel relaxed and rejuvenated at the same time.
Gentle on Joints
Swimming is the ultimate non-weight-bearing exercise. Water supports 90% of your body weight which is why I literally feel no stress on my joints whatsoever.
In 2016 a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers found that swimming leads to decreased inflammation and improved vascular flow in patients with osteoarthritis.
Tones and Tightens
Even better news, water is almost 800 times denser than air at sea level, so the external pressure is distributed evenly all over your body. Additionally, as you swim, your body is naturally resisting the extra pressure which ultimately results in overall muscle-toning. When you run or sit on a bike your arms for instance are obviously not getting the same intensity of workout as your legs. However, when you’re in the pool, your arms are fully engaged so your often-neglected lats, deltoids, and traps receive the benefit as well. Plus, since so much of swimming is about staying balanced and level in the water, swimming helps you develop the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and lower back that are so often missed.
Improves Breath Strength
Another huge benefit, pretty relevant at the moment, is that swimming coordinates movement with breath. A study in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that swimmers had better tidal volume (the amount of air that moves in and out of the lungs during relaxed breathing) compared to runners. This results in a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure. Note to all you runners, adding a couple of swims to your training regime could improve your overall times.
Still not ready to get your old costume out of a drawer? What about this fact then?
It Turns Back the Clock!
Regular swimmers are biologically 20 years younger than their birth certificate say they are, according to research from Indiana University. Scientists say that, even up until your 70th birthday, swimming affects blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system health, cognitive functioning, muscle mass, and blood chemistry to be much more similar to that of your younger self.
That’s all I needed to hear, speak to you later, I’m off for my swim!