Of all the great qualities that the sport can claim, it is the physical benefits of swimming that are perhaps most compelling. Unlike many other sports, swimming is known for the wide variety of things it does for your body. Whereas activities like strength training and running largely ignore certain aspects of physical fitness when done alone, swimming incorporates a little bit of everything. Below are just a few of the major physical benefits that doing some swimming can provide.
- Swimming can save your joints. Most sports and exercises, from push-ups to jogging, have some sort of impact on your joints. Everyone has seen professional athletes whose knees, elbows, and ankles are ravaged all too soon after years of abuse. They serve as the quintessential warning for high-impact sports done on land. Swimming, meanwhile, involves precisely zero high-impact force being put on any joints. Therefore, one of the best physical benefits of swimming–especially for older athletes–is that no long-term damage is being done to your body while you exercise.
- Swimming is a great upper body endurance workout. When you see a typical swimmer two things immediately stand out. They generally have massively wide backs (or trapezius muscles) and huge shoulders (deltoids muscles). This is no coincidence. Putting your hours in with swimming will give you the physical benefit of a very aesthetic upper body, especially if you vary your strokes and techniques. When you swim, try to go as hard as you can. And as you begin to feel that distinct burn in your chest, shoulders and back, you’ll know it’s working.
- For calorie burning, swimming is among the best workouts you can do. Using a concentrated, coordinated effort with so many muscle groups to propel yourself through water requires quite a bit of energy. In fact, the average 155 pound person swimming with even a light to moderate effort can expect to burn over 550 calories per hour! Most activities in this calorie shredding echelon are rigorous, and sometimes even torturous. But when you’re in the water, you’ll be able to get rid of those excess calories in a much cooler, more comfortable way.
- Swimming can reduce stress and lower your blood pressure. Because swimming is such an effective cardiovascular exercise, some of its best physical benefits are directly related to overall health. As you swim, your heart and lungs will strengthen in response to the considerable effort you’re expending — fortifying them against common health problems that plague millions. Additionally, cardiovascular workouts are believed to release endorphins in the brain, giving you a sense of increased peace and well being. All it takes to reap the health benefits is a regular routine of enjoyable laps in the pool.