“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . . ”
If you’re a Pixar fan — or at least the parent of one — you probably recognize that common song, sung by the fish Dory in the movie Finding Nemo.
Although that message comes from a cartoon fish, it’s still great advice, even for landlubbers!
Whether or not Dory remembers this, swimming is one of the most effective, low-stress physical activities out there. Experts agree that it’s a great way to switch up your fitness routine, and it’s low-impact enough that it can work for just about anyone, regardless of their fitness background.
Curious about what swimming could do for you? Let’s dive in to some amazing facts:
1.) Swimming Is a Low-Impact Exercise
Compared to some other physical activities, such as running, swimming is generally considered to be a much lower-impact workout.
When you swim, the water around you helps to somewhat unshackle you “from the constraints of gravity,” as Hirofumi Tanaka, director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Lab at the University of Texas, told TIME magazine. At the same time, the pressure of the water is uniformly distributed on your body, particularly at your joints. This can help you to avoid some of the wear and tear in your hips, knees, and shoulders that can result from other workouts.
As a result, swimming is considered to be a great recovery activity, and it’s a prime fitness tool for people who may have trouble exercising otherwise, like those with osteoarthritis or similar conditions.
2.) Swimming May Help Your Heart
Research suggests that swimmers may have healthier hearts and circulatory systems than non-swimmers.
Swimming regularly has been shown to help improve your overall cardiovascular health, including lowering your cholesterol levels, according to a report from UC Berkeley.
Meanwhile, swimming may help with other factors that promote heart health; it has been connected to lower blood pressure, as well as improved blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
3.) Swimming Is Cardio and Strength Training All In One
Swimming is a powerful aerobic activity, great for elevating your heart rate and increasing your lung capacity. But swimming isn’t just about your heart; it’s also a powerful full-body workout.
According to Tanaka, swimming engages more of your muscle groups at once than other forms of cardio exercise, and can help you work your legs, arms, core, and back, all at once.
After all, think about how much resistance you may be getting from the water! It takes a concentrated effort to build up speed and stamina. And, as Fitness magazine points out, all of this effort can help you work underused muscle groups, such as your “often-neglected lats, deltoids, and traps,” as well as “the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and lower back.”
4.) Swimming Can Help Your Aching Back
Tired of worrying about your posture? Upset by chronic aches and pains in your back? Need a way to stretch your spine after sitting for work all day? Swimming may be a great tool to help you feel better!
Multiple studies have demonstrated that water workouts are better for alleviating chronic back pain than land-based programs. Part of the reason is that the gentle pressure exerted by the water can help reduce the amount of stress placed on the spine, promoting muscle relaxation and greater flexibility.
And Tanaka argues that swimming is healthy for your spine for an additional reason. Namely? It allows you to get horizontal. He suggests that working out in a horizontal pose can help counteract the stress put on your body when hunching forward, as so many of us do when working at a desk, driving a car, or even engaging in other forms of exercise, like riding a bike.
5.) Swimming Can Help You Relax
We’ve seen the impact that swimming can have on your body, but what about your mind? Research shows that hitting the lap lane can help there, too!
Studies have shown that getting submerged in water can help promote unique feelings of calmness and relaxation. Meanwhile, research suggests that swimming can help improve the flow of blood to your brain. Exercising also helps your body release endorphins, which have been shown to help improve moods and decrease feelings of stress.
Getting Started With Swimming for Fitness
So, feeling spurred on to start swimming? Aching to get aquatic? Before you start swimming for fitness, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind.
Specifically, remember that swimming may be lower impact than other forms of exercise, but it’s still a rigorous workout for your body, including your muscles, lungs, and heart.
As such, it’s best to approach swimming with a plan or strategy. The more research and prep work you do ahead of time, the less of a chance that you’ll burn out or put yourself in danger when you first hop into the pool!
Over at WebMD, fitness experts recommend planning to swim for 2–2.5 hours per week, in order to start seeing major health benefits. Your pace and duration will largely be up to your level of commitment and physical capabilities, but the writers at ACTIVE suggest that “anyone looking to swim for fitness should be able to swim at least 20 minutes at a time, several times a week.”
For more on starting with swimming for fitness — including types of strokes, and ideas for what a generic training regimen might look like — you may wish to check out some of the resources below:
- ACTIVE: “7 Tips for Swimming Newbies”
- U.S. Masters Swimming: “Starting a Swimming Routine”
- Lifehacker: “How to Start Swimming for Exercise”
Is swimming one of your favorite pastimes? What advice or insights would you share with newcomers? We’d love to hear your thoughts over on Facebook!
And if you’re looking for the health and life insurance plan that can help you reach your wellness goals, the Enrollment Specialists can help! Led by our own health and life insurance superhero Matt Peebles, the Enrollment Specialists can help customize the insurance portfolio that will work best for you, your family, or your small business, making sure that your costs are minimized while your coverage is at its peak.
Want to keep the conversation going? Drop us a line today to set up your free consultation!