The Benefits of Swimming: Why You Should Be In The Pool


Swimming is more than just a fun activity, as it’s also a healthy activity that people of all ages can do. Swimming can be done both recreationally and competitively due to its low impact on the body. At the same time, it’s also an aerobic activity, meaning that areas of the heart, lungs and other various muscles can be worked out and keep people fit. No matter your fitness level, anybody can take part in this activity. But the health benefits go beyond just being fit. For many people who suffer from chronic health conditions, taking part in water aerobics, hydro pool therapy, and other swimming workouts can take on its full benefits and help manage their health.

For those who want to know all about swimming, this aerobic activity can provide both physical and mental health benefits. But why does swimming appear to provide more than other activities like jogging or biking? We’re here to look into all the ins and outs of swimming and help you find ways back into the pool even beyond the summer months.

What Makes Swimming So Great?

Swimming, simply enough, is a person’s ability to move through the water by moving their arms and legs. While the activity appears simple, it’s actually a highly cardio-intensive activity due to the pressure moving through the water placed on the arms and legs. However, what makes swimming a unique cardio sport compared to other sports such as running is how swimming works out the cardiovascular system and muscles. Studies that look into the differences between swimming and running have found that while runners are able to travel three times the distance than swimmers, swimmers face more calorie expenditure due to water pressure, and thus is often described as a full-body workout.

According to the study, the muscles from the neck down to the foot are used, and swimmers train at least 24 separate voluntary muscles to reach peak performance when swimming competitively. Because of the larger impact swimming has on the muscles in general, their entire body is used rather than the five main muscle groups that runners use while exercising. Plus, both running and swimming take up a significant amount of lung strength to help provide oxygen to the muscles, but the way they also breathe matters. Competitive swimmers often work with short, quick breathes to provide a higher intake of oxygen to their bodies, but runners often have to regulate their breathing but don’t need to perform.


What Muscles Does Swimming Work Out?

While in the swimming pool, the 24 total muscle groups within the body are used because our bodies aren’t specifically designed for swimming through the water more fluidly than other animals. However, swimming does work out various muscle groups depending on the type of stroke performed and the areas focused on. To help organize these muscle groups, understanding how each swimming style works can help further your understanding and give you a better idea of why swim workouts can improve your health:

Freestyle: Freestyle swimming is a front crawl, using the arms and legs to propel the body forward. As the classic swimming posture, it’s considered a good competitive and exercise stroke that focuses on speed and distance. When working out the muscle groups, it works out many core groups, including the arm muscles, neck muscles, lower waist muscles, and leg muscles. All of which include specific areas such as the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, biceps, triceps, and external obliques.

Backstroke: Instead of laying the body on the front, the person lays on their back while using the arms in a windmill motion. While similar to freestyle, this style of swimming is recommended for those with back problems. Backstroke works out the same muscle groups as freestyle but also focuses on the upper back muscles.

Butterfly Stroke: The butterfly stroke works with a proper technique to propel swimmers forward. Due to its emphasis on the arms and legs, the core abdominal, lower back muscles, and glutes also get worked out alongside other areas such as the shoulders, calves, and triceps.

Breaststroke: The breaststroke focuses on bending and kicking the legs while the rest of the body lies facing down, with the arms moving in half-circle motions in the front of the body. Because of this complicated stroke, this stroke mainly focuses on the pectoral and latissimus muscles along with the stomach areas. The glutes and quadriceps are also used to provide power to the stroke itself, making it an excellent swimming technique for exercise.

The Benefits of Swimming For Exercise

If you intend on swimming to exercise and lose weight, then know that because it works out almost all of our core muscle groups, you’re going to have an excellent workout session. Swimming is considered an excellent form of exercise because it benefits almost all areas of the body. Taking the time to swim, no matter the reason, can provide you with great benefits that include:

Swimming Improves Posture

Hunched shoulders and a curved lower back often develop from poor posture due to heavy inactivity. Posture remains a vital aspect of people’s health because of its ability to reduce problems with joint and bone alignment, decrease wear and tear on the joints, and reduce pain resulting from spine alignment. Swimming reinforces good posture, especially when performing butterfly and breaststrokes. Studies looking into the effects of posture techniques showed that with correct posture alignment, their swimming technique improved significantly and increased core strength.

Better Cardio and Pulmonary Health

Swimming, either as a form of exercise or competitively, helps improve your cardio health in numerous ways. Because air intake is limited due to the nature of the exercise, it promotes greater lung capacity and a consistent intake of oxygen. Studies looking into the lung capacity of swimmers showed that they have higher rates of pulmonary function in comparison to football players. This increase in lung capacity also helps improve the resting heart rate and breathing rate, which in turn can decrease the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Muscle Endurance and Strength

Because swimming requires constant, competitive strokes, using swimming as a form of exercise can also improve muscle strength and endurance. This occurs due to the higher resistance the muscles have to move through the water and uses the natural density of water as a form of resistance against the muscles. However, swimming can also be benefited by other forms of endurance training. Studies looking into the effects of dry-land muscle endurance training found that competitive swimmers experienced an improvement in their performance.

Weight Loss From Swimming

As a form of exercise intended for weight loss, swimming can help people lose weight due to how it works out the entire body rather than just areas like the core muscles. Although any form of cardiovascular exercise can be used to lose weight, studies comparing swimming to the effects of walking have shown that older women were able to reduce weight distribution around the waist and hips, which resulted in lower cholesterol levels, insulin levels, and lipid measurements. Swimming as a full-body workout has provided long-term benefits in these cases when managed as a weight loss exercise.

Swimming As A Form Of Therapy

Despite the many benefits swim workouts can bring, people with chronic conditions that affect their everyday movement may believe that swimming can’t help them control their condition. Despite that belief, swimming can also be used as a form of physical therapy, helping manage pain conditions related to the spine, joints, and muscles. There are many types of aqua therapy and aqua aerobics that can help manage chronic pain conditions, including:

Aquatic Exercises: Aquatic exercises can often be incorporated into physical therapy treatment plans. Due to the water’s buoyancy, it can help work out the muscles without placing pressure on any pain points related to the person’s condition.

Cold Water Hydro Pool Therapy: Cold water hydro pool therapy has been used to help reduce muscle damage and inflammation caused by certain conditions. The colder temperatures also provide some health benefits by improving cardiovascular function, endocrine system, boosting the immune system, and can help improve mood. However, this type of therapy should be used as a gradual progression under supervision due to the effects cold temperatures can have on the body during long periods.

Hot Water Hydro Pool Therapy: Contrasted with cold water therapy, hot water hydro pool therapy uses warmer temperatures to relieve stress, relax tightened muscles, clean out pores in the skin, and promote better sleep. These warmer temperatures can help promote aquatic exercise and can assist in rehabilitation plans for those who underwent surgeries from previous injuries.

Water Circuit Therapy: This method of hydro pool therapy combines the benefits of both hot water and cold water hydro pool therapy, helping patients with nerve, muscle, or connective tissues diseases alleviate their symptoms. It can also be combined with other methods of water therapy, including saunas and steam baths, to provide more of these benefits.

Hydro pool therapy works to benefit the rehabilitation process for many conditions, often because swimming is a full-body workout that engages with many of the core muscles being affected by those conditions. Overall, we can look at how hydro pool therapy and swimming help with pain management by affected:

Cardiovascular System: During cold water sessions, exposure to colder temperatures can increase blood flow to the various tissues. In warm water exposure, blood flow can also be improved and increase the level of lipoprotein-cholesterol throughout the bloodstream.

Respiratory System: hydro pool therapy, which often incorporates aquatic exercise, can increase levels of oxygen intake produced, specifically for people with long-term chronic respiratory conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Nervous System: Aquatic exercise and other forms of hydro pool therapy can improve symptoms of pain, spasms, fatigue, and autonomy for those with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease due to the increase in blood flow.

Musculoskeletal System: For those with joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, aquatic hydro pool therapy can reduce the amount of joint damage often produced by aerobic exercise and help lower muscle soreness associated with pain-induced joints.

Hormonal System: Cold water therapy has been known to increase the circulation of certain hormones such as norepinephrine and other endorphins. However, the shock value of cold water used in therapy can also temporarily increase cortisol levels but also produce hormones that reduce endorphins responsible for pain.

Gastrointestinal System: People who suffer from gastrointestinal conditions such as colonic spasms, anorectal disorders, ulcers, and other digestion problems can experience better digestion overall, improving pressure related to those conditions and helping rehabilitate patients with gastric dysfunction.

Hydro pool therapy in these cases can be widely used to improve pain management and help those with various conditions such as asthma, obesity, obstructive pulmonary diseases, and other chronic diseases. Although the effects on these various systems are different, hydro pool therapy can also provide positive effects when used for pain management. Hydro pool therapy, which can include aqua aerobics as part of the treatment, can benefit those with chronic conditions.

Tips On Getting Started With Water Aerobics

If you’re excited about the idea of swimming, then one of the best ways to begin is by finding your local swimming pool! Finding aqua aerobics near you can be difficult, but there are plenty of resources to help you find a local swimming pool to help you begin your swimming workout. One of the biggest organizations that can help you start your swim workouts is Better UK, an organization focused on promoting leisure, health, and community services and operate over 200 facilities across the United Kingdom. Another resource you can use is help from your government to learn about any recreation guidelines in place for swimming pools near me. Lastly, speak with your GP about your health and see if they may have any recommendations for swimming pools, water aerobics classes, and hydro pool therapy sessions. Any resources they may have that can help you get into swimming can be a great start towards improving your health.


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