Just Keep Swimming: The Health Benefits of Water Workouts

As temperatures around the country begin to warm, it’s time to start dreaming about summer! And there’s no better way to enjoy the best season of the year than to spend it in and around a swimming pool.

Swimming offers a special sense of freedom. The refreshing feel of the water on your skin. The way your body effortlessly glides through the water. The way a quick dip cools you off on a sweltering hot summer day. But Swimming is also one of the best exercises for your body and mind.

This Wellness Wednesday, we’ll explore the wonders of water workouts and learn how swimming just might be the perfect workout. Along the way, we’ll look at some of the best benefits swimming provides and examine a few tip safety tips while we’re at it.

So let’s jump in and discover another great way to prioritize physical and mental health while having fun doing it.

8 GREAT Benefits of Swimming

Did you know that swimming is one of the best exercises you can engage in? The buoyancy of water supports your body and the impact on your joints is significantly reduced allowing you to move more “fluidly”. According to Harvard Medical School, research has also found that swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood.

If you are looking for a low-impact, full-body workout, swimming might just be the answer. While reducing the strain on your joints, swimming engages nearly all of your muscle groups and improves your lung capacity – all while keeping your heart rate up.

The general health benefits of swimming make it a healthy activity for all ages and all fitness abilities. Swimming can do so many great things for both your mind and your body. Healthline has come up with a list of the Top 12 Benefits of Swimming, here are some of our favorites from their list:

  • Swimming Works Your Whole Body

    Swimming is truly a “total-body workout”.  It increases your heart rate without stressing your body, tones muscles, builds strength and builds endurance.

  • Swimming Strengthens Your Cardiovascular System

    Your heart and lungs also get a workout when you’re in the pool. Some studies have shown that swimming may help lower blood pressure and control blood sugar.

  • Swimming is Good for People with Injuries, Arthritis, and Other Conditions

    Due to its low-impact nature, swimming is a safe activity for those with conditions that make high-impact exercises difficult like arthritis, injury, or disability.

  • Swimming is a Good Option for People with Asthma

    The humid environment of swimming pools can help ease asthma while breathing exercises associated with swimming, like holding your breath, may help expand your lung capacity and gain better control of your breathing.

  • Swimming is Beneficial for Those with Multiple Sclerosis

    People with MS may find swimming beneficial as it makes the limbs buoyant, helping to support them during exercise. One study showed that a 20-week swimming program resulted in a significant reduction of pain in people with MS.

  • Swimming is an Efficient Way to Burn Calories

    A 160-lb person burns 423 calories per hour while swimming at a low or moderate pace.  That’s 35% more calories burned than walking, 57% more calories burned than doing yoga, and 16% more calories burned than using an elliptical machine.

  • Swimming Helps Manage Stress

    Swimming is one of those activities that allows you to block out the world around you and just be. It can be a great way to de-stress and practice mindfulness while engaging in physical fitness.

  • Swimming is Great for Kids, Too!

    It’s recommended that kids engage in a minimum of 60 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Swimming is a fun activity that doesn’t have to feel like working out. Whether it’s through swimming lessons, swim team practice, or unstructured swim time, swimming is a great way to keep kids moving.

Swimming might just be the perfect workout as it is a great option for just about everyone. Due to its long list of benefits, the Harvard Medical School lists it as #1 on its list of 5 of the best exercises you can ever do while suggesting that swimming might be called “the best workout”.

Don’t forget to stay Hydrated when in the Pool

Even though you’re swimming in water, you need to be sure that you’re also drinking water while doing it! Make sure you are well hydrated before, during, and after swimming because it’s a lot tougher to detect dehydration when you’re in the water. Remember all of the health benefits we listed above? Each of those is due to your body working, burning calories and consuming water along the way.

Our skin serves as a waterproof layer keeping water from entering our body. While it does absorb small amounts of water while we’re swimming, this water remains on the outer layers of our tissues and doesn’t contribute to our body’s hydration level. And while you may not notice it, your body still sweats during high-intensity workouts like swimming. So staying hydrated while working out in the pool is just as important as when you’re working out on dry land.

It may seem counterintuitive that your body needs water when immersed in it, but the experts at USA Swimming recommend swimmers consume at least 8 ounces of water for every 15-20 minutes of activity. Dehydration of just 3-4% of your body weight can reduce muscle strength by about 2% – so stay hydrated to stay strong while in the pool.

Always Be Safe While Swimming

Everyday Health has a great guide to getting started with swimming. While offering tips on beginning workouts, what to wear, and how to warm up for a swimming workout, they also offer these helpful tips to stay safe while swimming:

  • Don’t Swim Alone

    Swimming alone is never smart. You never know what could happen and you’ll feel much better having a friend (or a lifeguard) around in case of emergency.

  • Be Visible

    When you’re swimming in a lake, river, or ocean, make sure you are visible to boats and other swimmers. Wear a swim camp or suit that’s a bright color or bring tow a safety buoy for optimal visibility.

  • Start Slow and Build Up Workouts Gradually

    Easing into your swimming workouts will help keep muscle soreness at a minimum and will help you learn when you need to take breaks. Start slow and give yourself time to build up your routine.

  • Check Water Quality

    Natural bodies of water can carry germs that can make you sick or cause an infection. Before you jump in, make sure to check with local officials to see if the area is under advisory or has been closed for safety reasons.

  • Consult Your Physician if You Have a Medical Condition

    While swimming is generally safe for people of all ages and fitness levels, make sure to consult your physician if you have any medical condition or injury that might interfere. Avoid swimming if you just had surgery, have an open wound, or lack the strength to swim.

Now that you’ve got the facts (and some tips) about swimming, get out there and live your best summer! This just may be the summer when you discover a new way to combine health (body and mind) with the summertime thrill of being in the pool. Dive on in – just remember to stay hydrated, stay safe, and feel all those good health vibes abound.

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