The moment the summer arrives most of us jumps straight into swimsuits and hits the nearest beach or pool. And we have fun playing interesting games, chilling with our friends or simply using the chance to relax on the beach, tan and read some interesting book.
It all comes with one specific activity that connects all the others – swimming. No matter what you’re doing or who’re you therewith, if you’re on the beach, you’ll spend some time swimming. And not without a reason. Swimming is not only fun when you race your friends, it has lots of health benefits. In this article, you’ll read about them and find out why you should leave your swimsuit within the hand reach even during winter and continue your swimming sessions even when it is cold outside.
It’s Great For Your Whole Body
Unlike running, where you mostly develop legs, or gym, where you have to do specific exercise for different parts of your body, swimming means all your body muscles work at the same time. To overcome water resistance, you’ll need to use your hands and legs equally. And not just that, because different swimming techniques (like a butterfly, for example) serve as a great chest workout, etc.
And, unlike other sports, all that comes in the shape of low-risk activity. When you run, play some contact sport like basketball or soccer, or even tennis, it includes lots of directional changes, which causes stress to your joints. After a while, you could end up injured or have problems with them. Swimming is a low-impact activity and it doesn’t come “heavy” on your knees, so it is far less stressful than most of the other sports. This significantly lowers the risk of injury while at the same time serves as a full-body workout.
This is especially important if your job includes lots of sitting or simply lacks movement and you need something that will keep your muscles in good shape. Now add the fact you’re using the muscles you wouldn’t use otherwise. There are some muscles we all neglect when we work out, like deltoids or traps, and swimming forces you to use them, together with those stabilizing muscles in your deep back.
It’s A Two-Way Training
Swimming is, as mentioned above, great for all of your body muscles. And we say all, we mean – all! Not just your arms, legs… But also for your heart. Some of the studies, like the one published by the “American Journal of Cardiology”, claim that regular swimming improves the vascular function of your heart and it lowers your blood pressure.
But not just that, it will also:
- Increase the size of your heart
- Increase the capacity of the left ventricle
- Improve the quality of your coronary arteries and increase the quality of blood transporting through your body
- Cholesterol level will drop
Helps You Breathe Properly
Breathing is something our body does naturally, but there are a few differences in techniques that could be useful not just when you swim, but also when you’re outside of the pool.
Every swimming school, every swimming course starts by teaching its students how to breathe properly. And the reason is not just the fact that breathing properly will help you gain more speed when swimming. The most important benefit is the fact that breathing properly comes you down and clears your mind. Helps you relax and maintain control of your body and your actions.
Being underwater forces your body to learn how to use oxygen more efficiently. It also helps you learn how to inhale more air with every breath you take.
Believe It Or Not – Your Running Ability Will Improve
Learning how to breathe means you control your blood pressure better, your heart works in a greater capacity and allows you to use more energy while you run. Swimming increases your endurance overall, so next time you decide to take a run, you’ll find yourself running more and more without getting tired.
Swimming Speeds Up Recovery
If you’ve had some kind of a problem with your muscles or bones, and you need to strengthen it up, the doctor will probably recommend swimming. As we’ve already stated, it is probably the only sport where your whole body works, and the risk of injury, as long as you don’t overestimate yourself and try to swim more than you’re capable of, is minimal.
Also, if you’re a professional athlete or spend lots of time working out, or you’ve simply had some really hard job to do and now you’re exhausted, swimming will help you and your body recover both mentally and physically.
It Is A Major Stress Reducer
Stress is something we have to live with. It happens every day, whether we allow it, expect it or want it or not, and holding up in these situations is sometimes more than challenging. Swimming helps you reduce it. The whole experience – from entering the water, over inhaling, exhaling, and moving forward using your arms and legs, to letting the water atmosphere and the environment take over – Is extremely stress-free. Not to mention the effect of simply laying on the water surface, relaxing and clearing your mind.
Swimming Makes You (Feel) Younger
Ever wondered why you feel fresher, more vital when you’re done with your swimming sessions, and why do you feel better and better? The secret comes in all these reasons mentioned above, combined. The mental relaxation mixed with the heart and lung exercises then summed up with your whole body working out creates amazing chemistry that keeps you fresh for a longer period of time.
It Makes You Smarter
Swimming affects your heart, we’ve been through that. But how does it make your brain work better? Some research claim that pressure water makes on the chest cavity makes the blood flow better, which causes your brain to work faster.
It could also be connected to the fact that, when you swim, most of the time you’re relaxed and your brain could function without any outside distractions, besides maybe music from your headphones. And, again, the blood flows better through your vessels.
Improved Physical Appearance And Strength
Although something most people don’t want to admit, we live in a world where most of the impressions are made with our eyes, so it is nice to hear that regular swimming sessions will cause your muscles to define, and you’ll look great in a no-time.
But, it doesn’t end there. It also makes you stronger. Remember that feeling of resistance water provides when you try to swim? The more you swim, the stronger you become because of that resistance. It forces your muscles to work harder, from your legs, through your stomach, up to your arms and neck, making them thicker, but stronger and improving your overall strength.
It is good to know that recent studies have shown that it also builds up bone mass, although this field requires further research and testing.
Keeping You Flexible
Before you enter the pool or any kind of water, it is good to stretch and warm-up. Most of these movements you’ve done while you warm up you’ll do while you swim. Swimming includes a lot of stretching, twisting… You’re basically using your legs as fins, to push you off against the water pressure, keeping them stretched most of the time. The same goes for your arms.
When you’re done, before you take a break, stretch again, as it will help your muscles to relax even more. As time progress, you’ll see you’re able to stretch more and more after each session, and your flexibility will become obvious.
It Easily Burns Calories
Let’s be honest – during the winter, we all love to feel comfortable behind our long-sleeved hoodies and warm jeans, but as the summer draws near, we start to panic because we still carry a good portion of holiday weight. If you’ve already tried running or visited the gym, but you’re not completely satisfied with the results, it is time to put on your swimsuit and hit the pool.
Swimming breaststroke for 10 minutes burns 60 calories, backstroke burns around 80, if you swim freestyle you’ll burn 100 calories in 10 minutes, and if you decide to go with the butterfly, you’ll end up burning around 150 calories (again, It depends on each individual, but the numbers shouldn’t vary much).
Compared to swimming, a half-hour session should burn the approximate amount of calories you’ll lose when you run a 5K.
Swimming Helps With Asthma
If you have asthma and you try to exercise in a gym, it is a matter of time you’ll find yourself unable to catch a breath. It is also a possibility if you run because you’re more likely than not to run into an area filled with seasonal pollen. On the opposite, swimming makes you breathe moist air, which is good for asthma.
That combined with the proper breathing techniques, and increased overall lung capacity are proved as a good way to fight asthma. It is also good for those who have problems with snoring, mouth breathing, etc.
Good Anti-Depression Medicine
Swimming forces you to relax, but besides being a great anti-stress tool, it could also help with depression. It is a known fact that swimming produces endorphin, known as the “hormone of happiness”. Some like to compare swimming to yoga, as constant stretching your body while you breathe deeply and in a rhythm has a similar effect.
Laying on the water and letting it move you with your eyes closed is similar to meditation, lowers the stress, and helps you remove all distractions you want. So, if you feel sad, overwhelmed by something, or simply like you’re losing strength, visit the nearest pool or the beach and let the water wash away all the problems, at least for the time you’re swimming. And when you’re done, you’ll think more clearly and have a better view of a situation than you’ve had before.
Salt Water Is Good For Your Skin
If you spend enough time swimming in saltwater, you’ll see your skin being in better shape than before. Saltwater helps your skin to keep its moisture, and it also removes the toxins by helping the new skin cells grow. Try it out and you’ll see – after a few saltwater swims, your skin will be unbelievably smoother than before.
If You Know How You Can Do It!
Unlike most of the other sports, like running or basically anything else, swimming is allowed – and recommended – for everyone, from pregnant ladies, to those who are recovering from an injury or anything in between. It provides a great exercise in any way imaginable, and it also allows you to choose how fast you’ll go, how far, etc. Adjust it to yourself, your needs, and your wishes, and just – swim away!
Of course, if you have some kind of serious condition, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before you enter the water, but most likely you’ll be good to go.
It Opens New Range Of Possibilities
You find regular swimming boring, or simply want to try something different? Great! There are lots of options. You could go scuba diving and visit some amazing underwater cities or meet different sea creatures. Or you could try freediving, or stay near the surface and admire the world underneath you by snorkeling.
Or call your friends and organize races, play “Marco Polo”, and so on… Don’t be afraid to get creative. Whatever suits you best, as long as you’ve learned how to swim properly. The options and possibilities are endless, it is up to you to make the best out of them and have fun.
Remember – Be Responsible!
Swimming is great, swimming is fun, healthy, but the most important thing is to stay responsible. Don’t force anything. If you feel any kind of pain, don’t “swim through it”, it is better to get out and let it pass. When you’re OK, get back in. If it still hurts, visit the doctor.
Listen to your body, and don’t ignore the signs that tell you it is time to stop. It doesn’t have a point if you don’t return shortly and continue your session.
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Whether you want to swim, snorkel, free dive, you’re into scuba diving, or simply want to relax on the surface, one thing is certain – learning how to swim and how to behave in the water was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.
It is great for your physical appearance, it is great for your body and your health, and it serves as an amazing stress-relieving tool. And if you look at it that way and say swimming could make you live longer… you won’t be wrong. So don’t wait, grab a towel, and I’ll see you by the pool or at the beach!