We are all familiar with Michael Phelps’s superhuman achievements in the swimming pool. The man has won more Gold medals than most countries. However, you don’t need to be a world class athlete to reap the benefits of swimming in your life. Here are eight ways in which swimming can help you earn numerous proverbial medals of health and wellness.
- It’s a Great Aerobic Exercise
Not only is swimming fun, but it’s also a great aerobic exercise. And now that the weather is warm, it’s the perfect time to start swimming laps. While you might not be the next Michael Phelps, any person at any age can start swimming to increase their overall health. “Swimming is a good, whole-body exercise that has low impact for people with arthritis, musculoskeletal, or weight limitations,” Robert A. Rogers, director of the exercise physiology laboratories at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque says, “because it is low impact and can be done by people of any weight, age or physical ability.”
It might not help with wrinkles or laugh lines, but swimming has been shown to cut the risk of dying by nearly 50 percent. According to a study done by Dr. Steven Blair at the University of South Carolina, “Swimmers have the lowest death rate.” The study was over the course of 32 years. The research team followed 40,000 men, ranging from 20 to 90 years old and discovered that those who swam had a 50 percent lower death rate than runners, walkers, or men who got no exercise.
Water is one the best mediums in which to increase flexibility. Some rheumatologists recommend swimming to not only increase a person’s range of motion but also help to increase physical activity without causing stress on the body’s joints.
- Improved Asthma Symptoms
Swimming, like many other aerobic exercises, increases your lung capacity; it forces your body to work overtime. Since water is denser than air, your lungs need to work that much harder to supply enough oxygen to your blood, giving your lungs a good workout and thus decreasing asthma symptoms. According to a study done at The Children’s Exercise and Nutrition Centre at McMaster University, “Swimming as a training modality has definite benefits for the patient with asthma. These include an increase in aerobic fitness and a decrease in asthma morbidity.”
- Lowers Diabetes Risk
By exercising regularly, you’re decreasing your blood glucose levels. According to the University of Maryland, “Aerobic exercise and resistance training, alone or in combination, improves blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes.”
- It Improves Mental Health
According to the Centres for Disease Control and prevention(CDC), water-based exercise improves mental health. Swimming can improve mood in both men and women. For people with fibromyalgia, it can decrease anxiety, and exercise therapy in warm water can decrease depression and improve mood. Water-based exercise can improve the health of mothers and their unborn children. People with type 2 diabetes also have an increased risk for heart disease. Therefore, maintaining their heart health and weight is an important factor for diabetes maintenance. In a study done by Leiden University Medical Centre at the Departments of Endocrinology and Metabolism, a six-month exercise plan with patients who have type 2 diabetes was shown to decrease cardiovascular risk factors.
- It Helps You Lose Weight
Swimming for at least an hour can burn upwards of 500 calories. It works every body part and muscle without causing strain on your body. “You can swim almost every day without risking injury,” says Joel Stager, Ph.D., director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University at Bloomington, who has studied the effects of swimming for years. “You can’t say the same for running or strength training.”
- It’s Good for Pregnant Women
Exercising while pregnant is not only good for the expectant mother, but also good for the unborn baby. “Water exercises involve no impact, overheating is unlikely, and swimming face down promotes optimum blood flow to the uterus,” says a study from The University at Maryland.