Benefits of Swimming That Are Often Overlooked

Benefits of Swimming That Are Often Overlooked

Watching Olympic swimmers glide through the water can be inspiring. Their power and technical skill are incredible. Not to mention we would all want to hop into the water and come out looking like the athletes standing on the podiums. Yet, as impressive as Olympic swimmers are, many people still underestimate swimming as a workout. 

Oftentimes, people are surprised by how challenging swimming can be. It can be a great approach to relaxing sore muscles after a strenuous exercise or a great rest-day activity. In reality, swimming can produce incredible results. 

The aerobic exercise requires strength, endurance, technique, and power, yet accommodating newcomers. These are just a few of the benefits swimming brings to the table. 

What Are the Two Types of Swimming?

There are two common forms of swimming people practice: open-water swimming and pool swimming. 

Training and preparation will have nuanced differences. If you are interested in refining your stroke form and technical skill or are wary of open water, like ocean saltwater, swimming in outdoor or indoor pools is for you! Open-water swimmers enjoy the unexpected challenge, variety, and freedom open-water swimming allows for.

Each comes with its own unique community and passion. If you are unsure which is right for you, give each a try for a week or two. The differences in practice can be stark, and it may help you identify your preference. 

Regardless of which method you choose, ensure that you are in a safe environment. Prepare for the setting you are in with sunscreen and other supplies as is necessary. 

What Strokes Are Involved?

Swimming consists of many swim strokes. People often have a favorite but train in all of them. Watch each stroke be performed and practiced. Then give it a shot.  You might have a favorite starting out, but develop a fondness for another throughout your time in the sport. 

The form is crucial, and even though swimming is a low-impact activity, it is still high intensity and can lead to injury. Proper form helps avoid injuries, minimizes frustrations, and allows for intentional isolation of various muscles. It is helpful to give yourself a proper education of the various techniques and strokes available. This will help prevent injury and maximize your benefits. 

Most are aware of freestyle. This stroke is simple and perfect for training for sprints or hypoxic breathing. Three other commonly practiced strokes accompany the sport: backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Each stroke allows for unique training options and will boast different benefits, but almost all of them can strengthen your triceps. 

Using a variety of strokes will help keep swimming enjoyable, dynamic, and beneficial! Many individuals will practice various modifications using kickboards, pull buoys, or time restraints to focus on different parts of their training. 

What Are the Benefits?

Come mid-summer, everybody is looking for water to jump into. The refreshing, relaxing benefits are not lost on many, and swimming can release feel-good endorphins in the body. Whether it be a pool or open water, the health benefits of swimming are plentiful. 

Some may just view swimming as a great pastime or summer activity, but the benefits of swimming are often overlooked. Swimming is a low-impact workout that can leave you feeling challenged, relaxed, and healthier. 

There are many long-term benefits and mental rewards that swimming can provide. These benefits are nuanced, and those listed below are only a tiny sampling of the benefits swimming can lead to. The benefits below will touch on a few examples from these three categories: athleticism, flexibility, and mental health. 

Full-Body Workout

The uniqueness of swimming as cardio comes from full body involvement. With this form of cardio, your body is engaging every little muscle - requiring exertion of your legs, glutes, back, core, shoulders, and arms. Swimming can also improve your motor skills by engaging almost every major muscle group in your body.

Cardio boosts your heart rate and helps your body burn calories, and it can aid in the prevention of chronic health conditions like heart disease, high blood sugar and diabetes, and obesity.

Posture And Flexibility

The creation of long, lean muscles throughout your body doesn’t just look nice - it has great practical applications as well. The muscle development that swimming encourages helps improve posture and flexibility while relieving stiffness. If you are looking for an opportunity to stretch out your back after a day of sitting, swimming may be a perfect solution. 

These benefits are of increasing interest as people age, as osteoarthritis is more common in older adults. The low-impact benefits of swimming make it a great way to maintain or support flexibility and back health. Swimming may also help ease joint pain, like in the knees or hips, and target different muscle groups to improve your overall range of motion.

Mental and Relational Health

Similar to yoga, swimming can be therapeutic to many when it comes to mood. People have attributed swimming to reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress. It offers an opportunity to increase endorphins through exercise, focus your mind, and escape the noise around you. Swimming and other physical activities can also lower blood pressure.

Swimming requires constant attention. When swimming, every millisecond counts. Between counting strokes, monitoring form, and practicing different workouts, finding ways to lower time and perfect form are always top of mind for swimmers, offering a much appreciated mental break from stressors.

Lowering stress and tension can contribute to better relationships. Families navigating disabilities find swimming a unifying activity. Finally, swimming has been connected to brain cell development, memory retention, and self-control. These benefits alone may come as a surprise to you. 

Getting Started

Swimming is full of unique and surprising benefits, leaving many die-hard fans of the sport. If you are getting started, here is a checklist of things to consider:

  • Gear: Swim cap, goggles, jammers, speedo, or one-piece swimsuits, flippers, kickboard
  • Training: Get involved with a local swimming community in your area
  • Fuel: Eat healthy balanced meals, and consider supplements
  • Facilities: Recreation centers, community pools, or open-water options may be available 
  • Dryland workouts: Core workouts and body-weight exercises help to support speed and form

What It Comes Down To

If you are interested in adding a new activity to your workout routine or want to give swimming a trial run, you are heading towards a rewarding road. There are different methods and strokes available to customize the workout to your needs or target areas. 

Swimming goes far beyond recreation to support a healthy body and mind, and you can go at your own pace to prevent muscle fatigue. Up for the challenge? Get ready! Getting started with swimming is easy. Take note of the suggestions mentioned earlier for the best results.

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