1. 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. Robergs, 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.
4. 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."
Learn more: How Water Aerobics Help You Stay Fit And Live Longer
5. Lowers Diabetes Risk
By exercising regularly, you're decreasing your blood glucose levels. According to the University at Maryland, "Aerobic exercise and resistance training, alone or in combination, improves blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes."
6. It Improves Mental Health
According to the Centers 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 Center 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.
7. 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."
8. 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.
Jennifer J, a 14-year old swimmer at Crawfish Aquatics in Louisiana, wanted to enter a local writing contest, and she could think of no better topic than the sport that she lives and loves. She put together the following piece where her goal is to explain to an outsider this sport that we’re crazy about and still drives us crazy.
What is water? Some people say we can’t live without it. We need it for survival. It is their enemy. It is their friend. It is unpredictable and wild, yet it is tame and inviting. Water… so undefinable. But to me, the pool is my home, the water is my best friend, hard work is my passion, and swimming is my life. An outsider to the sport would call us insane for staring at a black line for hours on end, but really it’s much more than that.
I began swimming two years ago. I thought it would be fun and great exercise, little did I know that I would soon be addicted to it and never turn away. I was definitely not a natural, I slowly worked my way up the list, and I am now on an exclusive community team that is the defending state champions. I’ve been through everything you can imagine- injuries, losses, wins, friendships, enemies, sickness- yet I would never trade the lessons I learned from that for the world. Truly, swimming is a great sport. At one meet you might be ranked number one, then at the next you may finish last. It is such a fast-moving sport.
Every true swimmer has the will to work hard and get better every single day. It’s this that pushes you through those grueling practices where you just want to pass out; it’s what makes you spend an unfathomable amount of time in the pool just to shave off a millisecond in your next race; it’s what consumes your thoughts every second of the day to just achieve that unimaginable goal time. This is why swimming is not for the feeble-minded. It is the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. You must train your hardest to overcome your fastest enemy who may as well be your best friend in the lane next to you. Swimming is simply unbelievable.
I never knew I had such a strong passion for swimming until this summer. I spent more than 100 hours in the pool this summer and made some of the best memories of my life. It was worth getting up at 6:00 AM to train for hours a day instead of having tons of sleepovers with my friends. It was worth spending my summer going to two practices a day instead of going on fancy, luxury vacations all over the world. I made friendships that will last a life time and have discovered more things about myself than I ever thought was possible. This summer I found the will to succeed and never give up. I found it in the water.
I can apply this to any aspect of my life which is the amazing thing about swimming. When you are swimming a long set and feel like you are going to drown, this is where the champions are made.
Beneath the water is a different, complete world. It’s almost impossible to describe every aspect of it. I feel alive under the water. I feel free. I feel at home. I feel like myself. But most importantly I feel that my desire for success is greater than my fear of failure.