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    The Benefits of Swimming

    March 20, 2019
    Matt Spencer

    lap swimmer

    Swimming is the best way to exercise! [Full disclosure, the author is a full-time, year-round swimmer, who spends 2-hours in the pool every week.]

    I was a swimmer when I was younger, but had been only recreational in my swimming for over 30 years since then. When we had kids and joined the local swim club, I would plop in and swim a short set, but nothing serious. It all changed for me after the Rio Olympics, when we all got to see some serious competition. After the closing ceremonies, I swam every day until Labor Day, then joined my local rec center pool for the winter.

    So do I consider myself well-qualified to write an article on the benefits of swimming? I can speak from my own experience of swimming two to three times per week for the last 3 years, which is hopefully more entertaining than quotes from health researchers and institutions. And in this way, I hope to encourage you to become a regular swimmer, to improve your health and well-being. :-)


    Benefits of Swimming

    1. Improved Respiration
    2. Improved Circulation
    3. Weight Control and Body Tone
    4. Better Balance and Flexibility
    5. Lower Incidence of Injury
    6. Tranquility or Peace of Mind

     

    IMPROVED RESPIRATION

    My breathing is now much deeper and stronger, after years of holding my breath under water! I started out taking a breath every stroke or two, but now can go 4-6 strokes between breaths. This has expanded my lung capacity and my ability to inhale deeply. My breathing patterns are also more relaxed now, and I am 'belly-breathing' through my nose, not chest breathing through the mouth. Swimming builds a strong respiratory and oxygen transfer system.

    girl swimmer

    IMPROVED CIRCULATION

    The benefit to me in this regard is that I become much less tired doing strenuous activities now. I can take a few flights of stairs with ease, or ride a bicycle around town without breaking a sweat. My heart rate is lower, but my heart is pumping greater volume of blood than before. All due to my regular cardio workout in the pool. Increasing the heart rate regularly by swimming builds a stronger and more effective cardio-vascular system.

    WEIGHT CONTROL & BODY TONE

    Regular swimming is a very efficient way to lose weight. In fact, swimming vigorously burns more calories than any other form of exercise, and targeting trouble areas of the body is easier in the pool. Swimming laps and kicking drills, or even a pool noodle workout can be a fun way to lose weight and tone up the 'less-tight' parts of the body. For myself, after 10-12 months of regular swimming, I found myself 30 lbs thinner and feeling great! And as a result I began to improve my diet, as cravings for sugars and fatty foods naturally lessened.

    BETTER BALANCE & FLEXIBILITY

    Now for me personally, I have always had fairly good balance and flexibility, and for me they have both improved. Swimming has had a big effect on my spinal alignment and has helped me with joint issues I have, in the knees and hips. My joints are now much more flexible with swimming, and certain movements really allow all of the muscle groups, ligaments and bones to stretch-out and separate, in the near zero-gravity environment of the pool. For folks with balance issues, the pool provides a safe place to improve balance and muscle strength.

    woman doing Pool Yoga

    LOWER INCIDENCE OF INJURY

    You know, it's amazing - some days I'm so stiff and sore that I can hardly walk, but I can get in the pool, and get a great workout, without pain and no chance of aggravating existing problems. The water cushions and supports my aching joints, and as such provides a better way many people to exercise, without the fear of falling down, or colliding with another person (or tree!). Especially for those recovering from illness or surgery, aquatic therapy is often the most safe and effective way to stretch and strengthen.

    TRANQUILITY OR PEACE OF MIND

    It didn't come right away, I'll be honest the first few months were hard. I was sore and tired, all the time, and often would not look forward to my swim. Like growing out your hair, I had to push through the awkward stages, and after some time I was on the other side.

    After many months of regular swimming, it became both meditative and energizing, with a 'swimmer's high' from the release of endorphins. Combined with the increased oxygen uptake, I now feel great after swimming, with better focus and clarity of thought for the rest of the day.


    Now, if the idea of swimming laps face down in the water, is not comfortable for you, there are many other ways to get aquatic exercise. Water Aerobics, Water Yoga and Water Pilates techniques can all be used. A foam AquaJogger exercise belt or Delta Bells, foam water dumb bells can be useful for other forms of cardio exercise that you can do, head-up and or less vertical in the water.

    water running with foam water bells

    Any kind of motion in water is good for you. Get the most benefit out of your pool - improve your health! Of course, check with your physician before beginning any exercise program, and - get a buddy, working out is more fun and regular when you have a pool partner!

       

    Blog Author
    Matt Spencer
    SPP Pool Expert
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