Swimming increases your heart rate without putting stress on the rest of your body, improving your endurance and blood circulation. It’s as good a workout as running, biking or dancing. The American Heart Association reports swimming or participating in another aerobic activity 30 to 40 minutes a day reduces women’s risk of coronary disease by 30% to 40%.
Swimming builds your lung capacity and endurance like any other aerobic exercise with the bonus of forcing you to exercise breath control while you’re under the water. It exercises your core muscles, which include your respiratory muscles; and the moist environments found around a pool benefit those exercising with asthma.
Swimming is some of the best exercises available for those with joint injuries or illnesses such as arthritis by taking up to 90% of your weight off your joints and allowing you to move in ways you never could on land. The act of swimming also requires a full range of motion to propel yourself forward, helping you maintain the full use of your joints.
Vigorous physical activity boosts production of endorphins, which reduce stress and elevates mood. Swimming for just 30 minutes, three days a week has shown to lower stress levels, improve sleep patterns, and lower anxiety and depression, according to the Institute for Swimming in the UK (www.swimming.org).
Swimming is often hailed as a full-body workout with almost all strokes requiring coordination between big muscle groups in your torso, hips and legs to keep you afloat and moving forward. The water provides a form of endurance training that strengthens and tones your muscles while building muscle mass.
The opposite of metabolic syndrome, the definition of metabolic health is to have ideal levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure and waist circumference. Only an estimated 12.5% of Americans are able to meet this definition of health nirvana, and swimming is an activity that promotes good levels of all these measures.