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Fitness Friday Vol.8 - Benefits of Swimming

Fitness Friday Vol.8

Benefits of Swimming

Competitive swimming and swimming for fitness offers many physical and mental benefits. Whether a competitively or not, the feeling after a swimming workout always feels great afterwards. Whether a swimmer is younger or older, the positive benefits are far reaching. Below, FF will discuss these benefits and specific benefits to competitive and fitness swimmers.

Physical Benefits of Swimming

Why is Swimming one of the healthiest exercises? Swimming meets the needs of a wide range of individuals, in both treatment and prevention of physical health issues. Swimming can be an aerobic or anaerobic exercise; it strengthens the heart by helping it to become larger; making it more efficient in pumping — which leads to better blood flow throughout the body.

Heart Healthy

  • 30 minutes of swimming a day can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Regular aerobic exercise can reduce blood pressure.
    • Improves systolic blood pressure in adults with abnormally high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Swimming raises “good” cholesterol HDL levels.
    • For every 1 percent increase in HDL cholesterol, the risk of dying from heart disease drops by 3.5 percent.
  • Studies have also shown that aerobic exercise like swimming can also keep the layer of cells lining the arteries flexible and in good shape

Help Prevent Diabetes

Men can reduce their risk of diabetes by an average of 6 percent for every 500 calories a week they burn in aerobic exercise. Vigorous exercise for women can lower their risk by 16% over inactive women. If a person already has type 1diabetes, the aerobic benefits of swimming can be particularly helpful, as this type of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity.   According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics should get 150 minutes per week, spread across at least three days per week, of moderate-intensity physical activity like swimming to aid glycemic control.

Better Brain

Swimming lowers stress and increases spirits. This is all due to the release of endorphins, giving relaxation and a “natural high”. Swimming changes the brain through a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis, in which the brain replaces cells lost through stress.

Reduce Asthma

Swimming provides the chance to work out in moist air, which can help reduce exercise-induced asthma symptoms. It also relieves the condition overall by increasing lung volume and teaching proper breathing techniques.

Improves Mobility and Flexibility

Swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible. It’s a great way to increase muscle strength and tone. Water is 12 times denser than air. As a result, the water acts as resistance exercise…which is the best way to build muscle tone and strength. Additionally, swimming has also been shown to improve bone strength — especially in post-menopausal women.

Help with Arthritis

Since water will support 90% of the body weight and the effects of a warm pool can help loosen still joints, people with rheumatoid arthritis can receive greater benefits to their health after swimming. It’s also been proven that water-based exercise improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.

Live Longer

Believe it or not, swimming can keep one from dying prematurely. Researchers at the University of South Carolina followed 40,547 men, aged 20 to 90, for 32 years and discovered that those who swam had a 50 percent lower death rate than runners, walkers or men who got no exercise. The study authors concluded that the same benefits would be received by women too.

Low Impact, High Reward

Exercise in water gives the body more support than exercise on land. Swimming has less impact on one’s joints and bones than land-based workouts. Water is 800x denser than air so the benefit of this added resistance is felt when swimming laps. Plus, exercising in water makes one’s body work harder so 30 minutes in a pool is worth 45 minutes of the same activity on land. Because swimming is low impact, it’s something one can do every single day.

Psychological Benefits

There are a lot of benefits to swimming beyond keeping in great shape, swimming offers many positive advantages for one’s mental well-being too. Being a healthy is extremely uplifting and good for the brain!

Boosts brain health

A small study found that just being in water increases blood flow to the brain. Participants were immersed in water up to chest height and scientists measured blood flow to the brain while they were in the water and again when they drained the pool. They suggest their findings could indicate a positive impact on brain health. A healthy blood flow to the brain is important for supplying it with oxygen, glucose and nutrients and protecting it from harmful toxins.

Energy

Being physically fit can not only add years of healthy living to one’s life, but also allow one to have lots of extra energy! Once one begins to exercise more frequently, the body’s metabolism will slowly increase. In addition to having a higher metabolism, the blood in the body will circulate more efficiently. This means more oxygen in the body, more oxygen to the muscles, and a higher level of energy production throughout the body.

Stress Reduction

When it comes to reducing stress, there is really not a cure. There are as many ways to combat stress as there are things to stress about. Swimming is one way to take on the many stresses of life. Not only do the repetitive motions of swimming relax one’s mind, but the physical activity itself will help to reduce the stress levels. As high-stress levels can prevent clear thinking, reducing daily stresses will benefit the mind. A couple of studies have shown more positive effects of swimming.

  • Studies in rats have found that swimming can help to promote the growth of new brain cells in parts of the brain which break down during chronic (long-term) stress. Although this has only been tested in animals so far, the idea follows that this could potentially have the same effect in humans. It’s therefore suggested that swimming might enhance our ability to manage and cope with stress.
  • But the color blue is often thought of as calming. There’s no concrete scientific proof that being in blue spaces improves or enhances mental wellbeing. Studies have had mixed results. The term ‘biophilia’ which means love of nature. This phenomenon could explain why one feels positive and happy when one is near water.

Feeling Good

Physical activity increases a lot of chemical reactions in the brain and body. One of these is the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are chemicals produced at the base of the brain. They are released during physical activity. Swimming releases endorphins in the brain. These are “natural feel-good” hormones that increase positivity and bring about a sense of wellbeing and happiness. They create a feeling of:

  • Joy
  • Excitement
  • Being Energized
  • Better mood
  • Being more positive

Defeating Depression

More and more people suffer daily from depression. Simply by adding physical exercise to one’s daily routine, one can be helping to defeat depression. Many researchers have found that being more active can help to reduce symptoms of depression.