When I was a kid, my parents moved around a lot for work. However, whenever we moved, my parents always made sure to go to a place where there was a lake nearby. They were both avid swimmers, and taught me and my brother about the joys of the water from an early age.
Today, I live near a river and a lake, and my son enjoys swimming on a regular basis. I’m glad he is growing up with a love of the water, because it’s fun, and because it’s seriously healthy. Here are ten reasons to make swimming your number one workout choice.
It gets you outside
Too many people don’t spend nearly enough time outside. Even when exercising, many people hit the gym and spend those hours sweating indoors. While this makes sense in the winter, the rest of the year it’s a great time to get outside and soak in some sun. Not spending enough time outside can make you feel unfocused, fatigued, grouchy and depressed. If you’ve ever spent days cooped up indoors, you’ve very likely experienced this firsthand.
Spending time outside among nature, on the other hand, has been linked to better mood, stronger immunity and improved focus. The therapeutic value of the outdoors has been known for thousands of years, and is now being scientifically recognized more and more. Plus, the sun is our primary source of vitamin D, a vitamin crucial important for immune health, bone health and more.
So, if you have the option to swim in a lake, river, stream or outdoor pool… take it!
As we all know, working out leads to sweat. After you finish a long run, jog or brisk walk, you’re probably pretty sweaty and perhaps somewhat grimy. There’s nothing wrong with that — a shower will fix it all — but there’s something truly refreshing about exercising in the water. You’ll get a great workout without the sweat, and though you should still shower after you go swimming (whether it’s the ocean, lake or pool), you’ll be cool and refreshed the entire time you’re burning calories. Perfect for summer.
It’s a full-body workout
While some types of exercise only work a few muscle groups, swimming works your entire body. If you’re swimming with proper form, you’ll be using your arms, legs, hips, chest and back muscles. Doing this on a regular basis can give you a great full-body workout to keep every part of your body toned and strong. If you’re unsure about your form, it may be time for some swimming lessons.
It’s a great way to stretch
It’s very important to stretch your muscles after you warm up, before engaging in moderate to intense exercise. When you go swimming, however, you can stretch right in the water. Swimming and floating make you buoyant, and it’s easy to elongate and stretch your spine, arms and legs as you glide along. Try stretching while floating on your back, or doing the breaststroke.
It’s great for your heart
Exercise in general is very important for cardiovascular health, and swimming is a shining example. Swimming on a regular basis, especially at a moderate to intense pace, can help to strengthen your heart, improve your circulation and lower your blood pressure. All of these are important for protecting you from heart disease, heart attack, stroke and more.
A 2014 study published in the journal BioMed Research International tested the effects of swimming on physically inactive women with mildly high blood pressure. On the results of their research, the study authors wrote:
“…high-intensity intermittent swimming is an effective training strategy to improve cardiovascular health and physical performance in sedentary women with mild hypertension.”
It builds muscle
As we age, it’s vitally important to get both cardiovascular exercise and strength-building exercise. Going out for a swim accomplishes both. Swimming is a great way to build and strengthen muscles, and also to preserve your muscle mass as you age. A double benefit.
It may help you lose weight
We all know that eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of exercise is the key to healthy weight loss. Swimming is a great exercise to choose for this purpose. It burns calories (especially if you swim fast or for long stretches), and doing it on a regular basis can help you to get into fantastic shape… and maintain it.
It’s a gentle form of exercise
Swimming is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise. This makes it perfect for individuals who are healing from injuries, chronically ill, elderly or have physical limitations. It’s one of the least straining full-body workouts you can do… and of course, it’s wonderful for healthy, young people, as well.
It may help soothe sore muscles and joints
Because it is so gentle, swimming is a great form of exercise for those rehabilitating from an injury, and those with arthritis. Along with being gentle, swimming may actually help with the rehabilitation process. Because it makes your body weightless, swimming may help to get some tension off of stiff, sore muscles and joints, which may relieve some pain.
There are so many fun swimming options
There are so many places to swim: the ocean, the lake, the river, the stream, the pool and more. You can simply swim laps, you can race your friends, you can go diving, you can have fun with pool noodles and paddle boards… the options are endless and a whole world of fun!
What’s your favorite place to swim?
— Tanya Mead