Swimming is a great activity for many people of all ages and fitness levels, offering up all kinds of health benefits. It may surprise you, but swimming has also been reported to reduce joint pain and manage symptoms of some conditions like fibromyalgia1, multiple sclerosis2, and arthritis3 in many people.
If you're struggling to find the right exercise that you can tolerate, you may want to consider strapping on a swim cap and hopping in the pool. Before beginning any exercise routines, ask your doctor if swimming may be beneficial for you.
1. It's completely low impact
Even though swimming can be a full body workout, the amount of force passing through your joints is far less compared to high impact sports like running and aerobics. This allows you to improve the strength and flexibility of your joints while minimising impact that can cause joint damage.
2. It may help you manage your weight
A 160-pound person burns over 400 calories per hour swimming laps at a low or moderate pace, and this jumps to more than 700 calories per hour at a vigorous pace.4 Calorie burning exercises like this may help a person lose excess body fat (and keep it off) over time.
3. It may improve cardiovascular function8-11
To stay heart healthy and lean, the typical adult should accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week. 5
Swimming has been shown to be an effective exercise for improving aerobic capacity and cardiovascular function.8-11
In addition to helping you stay lean, regular participation in an activity like swimming can improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in Australia according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.7
4. It's safe for people of most ages
Swimming may not be appropriate for everyone, but many people - from infants to seniors - can participate in swimming or water activities with the appropriate training and supervision. Learning how to swim is a helpful life skill, and it's never too late to learn. Swimming requires nothing other than a person's own body, although additional tools such as flippers, kick boards, and water weights can add an extra dynamic to your workout.
If lap swimming isn't your forte, you can try a water aerobics class.
5. It's fun!
For most people, swimming is a relatively novel activity that they don't do often. This is good because it can add variety to your fitness program, preventing boredom and monotony that often lead to plateaus or quitting.
The "fun" factor of swimming is especially helpful when it comes to helping children increase their physical activity. Kids can practice basic gross motor skills, learn water safety techniques, and have a great time while splashing around in the water.
It's perfect for the whole family!