A man swimming in a pool

Physical and Mental Benefits of Swimming

Swimming has frequently been cited to be the perfect exercise. Swimming is a great mood enhancer and makes one feel energetic after each session. Among the key benefits of swimming is that it works holistically for the entire body. This is something that may be difficult to achieve in the case of any other single exercise. One has to create an exercise routine for the same.

Athletes also benefit from swimming and it keeps them fit and strong, particularly when they are recovering from an injury. Swimming hence acts as among the most effective means of rehabilitation.

Basics of Swimming

For smooth swimming, the entire body should coordinate well. While the movement of arms and legs is an important focus area, so are swimming strokes and breathing control. Anyone who plans to take up swimming as a hobby or an exercise can benefit greatly by knowing more about the basics of swimming and what is swimming. This helps with being an expert swimmer.

Let’s take a look at the 5 basic swimming skills for beginners to learn.

  • Breathing

A swimmer should be comfortable breathing while swimming. This puts him in a position to enjoy swimming well and learn new things. Most importantly, the swimmer exhales through the nose and mouth when the head is underwater. When you lift your head towards a side, take a full breath of fresh air.

  • Floating

One learns floating before one learns the strokes, and floating keeps the body over the water surface. Vertical buoyant forces from the water keep our bodies in a horizontal position over water.

  • Body Movements Should be Well Co-Ordinated

When swimming, the movements of all body parts should be synchronized, including the abdomen and the lower back. First, the hands cut through the water, followed by the elbows, and then the rest of the body.

  • Kicking

Kicking helps the body progress in the forward direction. Kickboards are sometimes used for boosting kicking techniques.

  • Strokes

After knowing how to float and kick, a swimmer learns the strokes. Strokes are some distinctive arm movements that help keep the body afloat and pull through the water.

Benefits of Swimming

The benefits of swimming essentially go beyond the benefits that we perceive on the surface. Swimming is good for our physical and psychological health in several ways. Let’s take a look at seven of the top benefits of swimming:

Enhanced Muscle Strength and Definition

A man is swinmming

By swimming, muscle health enhances throughout the body. Swimming will utilize more muscle groups for maneuvering over water. The legs will kick and the arms will pull, while the back will rotate and facilitate movement. Furthermore, the tightening of the stomach powers the legs. This also helps stabilize the core.

Overall, swimming is among the finest aerobic exercises and delivers a complete body workout. Achieving an inspirational and athletic physique is possible through swimming.

Swimming Helps Heal Joint-Related Disorders

A man is fast swimming

Swimming, as an exercise, delivers all benefits of any other aerobic exercise. But this is accomplished without the damaging effects of impact on joints. Therefore, swimming is among the easiest workouts for the young and old alike. Swimming makes one of the prescribed exercises for people suffering from joint-related problems. In this case, the patients swim in a well-controlled physical environment. As per the American Council on Exercise, buoyancy reduces your body weight by 90 percent. With the joints having to deal with only 10% of the body weight, the odds of injury drastically reduce.

Swimming Enhances Bone Mass

Underwater swimming

The fact that swimming enhances bone mass has been discovered recently. Earlier, researchers were uncertain about the fact. It was believed that only weight-bearing exercises enhanced bone mass.

Breakthrough research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology specifies that swimming does enhance bone mass. In-depth bone examinations are not conducted over humans for ethical reasons. The research is based upon experiments on rats.

Swimming Boosts Flexibility

Swimming Boosts Flexibility

Swimming boosts flexibility because the activity calls for one to twist, stretch, reach out and pull one’s way through the water. When swimming, our ankles operate in a way that is similar to a fish’s fins. We stretch our ankles to apply pressure over water and kick. The iterative stretching actions are a fine exercise for the body and boost flexibility.

Swimming Tones Down Inflammation

Swimming Tones Down Inflammation

Swimming works well for cardiovascular health in several ways. With its inflammation reduction capabilities, swimming prevents the build-up of atherosclerosis in the heart. Swimming is good for the heart in general. A 2017 study has revealed that swimming reduces the risk of death due to a heart disorder by 41%, and death due to any other disorders by 28%.

Benefits of Swimming for Weight loss

Benefits of Swimming for Weight loss

Swimming is widely perceived to be an excellent way to burn calories. Swimming works as well for burning calories as using the treadmill. Overall, the stroke that one uses to swim and one’s intensity also play an important role in this regard. It may even be possible that one burns more calories swimming as compared to running. Another important advantage is that one would not have to worry about sweat in one’s eyes when swimming, unlike in the case of running. When swimming, one stays cool, which makes swimming one of the finest ways to beat the heat.

Swimming is a very good exercise for losing fat and burning calories. By swimming for just 10 minutes, one burns 60 calories with breaststroke, 100 with freestyle, 150 with butterfly stroke, and 80 with backstroke.

Swimming Helps Overcome Exercise-induced Asthma

Swimming Helps Overcome Exercise-induced Asthma

It becomes tough for one when while working out, one is unable to get one’s breath. Several factors could be behind the occurrence.  Not being able to get one’s breath could be because of dry air in the gymnasium, or a seasonal allergy caused due to pollen grains.

Swimming is one of the ways of ensuring that one breathes moist air while working out. This not just helps alleviate symptoms of asthma, but keeps the lungs healthier as well. Swimming improves lung volume and teaches good breathing techniques.

Does Swimming Have Any Disadvantages?

Yes, swimming does have some disadvantages, so one needs to take care at all times. Swimming in swimming pools is safer than swimming at locations such as streams or the seaside. Similarly, one should go swimming in presence of a swimming coach or a lifeguard. Beginners should practice swimming in shallow water.

Let’s take a look at a few of the disadvantages of swimming:

Chlorine

Chlorine is used for disinfecting the pools. Exposure to high amounts of chlorine could lead to conditions such as eye irritation, dry skin, and rashes. So, swimming goggles should be used while swimming.

Injuries

Repetitive movements while swimming could lead to injuries, such as tendinitis, shoulder impingement, and biceps tendinitis. Bad stroke technique and insufficient rest between swimming sessions are among the top causes of such injuries.

Weight Gain

The temperature of a swimming pool’s water should be comfortable at all times. When one swims in cooler water, one tends to consume 44% additional calories after the swimming session. This is even while the calorie expenditure is nearly the same, irrespective of whether one swims in cool or warm water.

Dehydration

While swimming, one sweats and loses fluids just as in the case of any other exercise. But it’s hard to notice that one is sweating. But dehydration is still a possibility while swimming. A proper balance of electrolytes such as chloride, magnesium, potassium, and sodium is a must for the proper functioning of our bodies.

Infection

Swimmers are vulnerable to some infections, such as athlete’s foot, which is a contagious infection that spreads quickly. Beyond fungal infections, swimmers are also vulnerable to bacterial infections, such as swimmer’s ear. Proper medical attention is a must following the identification of infection.

Fatigue

A few of the swimmers experience fatigue following swimming; which may result from sun exposure. Consuming a proper breakfast is recommendable before going swimming.

Swimming During Winters

Swimming during winters or in cold water should be avoided. It can potentially cause hypothermia or hyperventilation.

Cramps

Swimming could potentially lead to cramps. It is hence preferable to keep the stroke proper and the swimming duration controlled.

Sunburns

Swimming for too long causes sunburns, if one swims in the sun.

Final Thoughts

Swimming is holistically good for the body. It keeps stamina levels high, boosts muscle strength, helps lose weight, keeps the spirits high, enhances cardiovascular health, and induces longevity as well. Swimmers have 50% lower death rates than people who run, jog, or don’t exercise. Swimming is also a morale booster, and taking up swimming is a great choice for keeping the body fitter. But a swimmer should make requisite efforts to ensure his safety when swimming. Swimming in swimming pools is safer than swimming elsewhere, where the odds of getting an infection are higher.

So, one should practice due diligence for deciding where one goes swimming. Always swim under the watchful eye of a swimming coach or a lifeguard. It is recommendable to not venture into deep waters, especially when swimming in lakes or streams. Using the right swimming kit, such as swimming goggles and an inflatable swim ring is also recommendable.

References:

https://greatist.com/health/benefits-of-swimming

http://scienceblog.com/community/older/2003/C/2003924.html

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070320073101.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atherosclerosis

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824205522.htm

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