Historically, our ancestors have been swimming for almost as long as we have been walking and evolving, with depictions of this activity dating all the way back to 4000 BC, now jump forward a few thousand years, and we can see the inclusion of swimming in the first modern Olympic Games that was held in Athens, Greece in 1896.
Nowadays, most towns with populations over approximately 20,000 have some form of public pools available, as wells as, a corresponding growth of swimming associations and teams.
Currently, swimming is the Second most popular exercise activity (behind walking) in the US, with approximately 360 million annual visits to various water venues. With so many people swimming each year, the question is are you one of them? Without further ado, here are the 10 Reasons everyone should swim.
1. Relieves stress
There is something cleansing about washing away your everyday worries and stress while swimming. Maybe it’s the feeling of weightlessness while you are floating/swimming, or maybe its the contrast of the refreshingly cool water on a hot day, or maybe its just the basic need to focus on keeping afloat and within range of basic life-sustaining oxygen. While any aerobic exercise stimulates your brain chemicals, the end result is that exercise stimulates your body’s neurotransmitters to produce more serotonin which in turn influence mood and produces ANP (Atrial natriuretic peptide), a stress-reducing hormone, all of which helps balance your brain’s response to anxiety and stress.
Also biophysically, strenuous swimming will increase the release of endorphins, these natural opiate peptides thereby create a natural euphoric feeling. With higher endorphin levels, we feel less pain, as well as, much fewer negative effects of stress. Because swimming also requires the rhythmic alternating of push and pull muscles while concurrently breathing in a rhythmic pattern there are obvious comparisons to other meditative practices such as pranayama (yoga breathing) or other relaxation techniques which are often recommended by doctors to reduce the feelings of stress.
Finally, for people who like the idea of a regular workout scheduled within a busy work or school week. Having this already scheduled workout helps alleviate the anxiety of when and how to fit in some physical activity when they often feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks and decision coming at them throughout the day. The idea that you can escape into an almost meditative exercise that allows you to feel paradoxically tired yet invigorated appeals to a large number of people.
2. Low Impact
There’s no knees and joints impacting the ground when you swim, you are therefore able to protect your joints from the normal wear and tear of gravities relentless impact that occurs while running. The amazing thing about water is that your entire weight is approximately 90% percent buoyant in the water and reduces the amount of stress on your joints because your only having to account for approximately 10% of your overall weight.
It also means more sustainable results, you can swim on a regular basis without feeling the normal repetitive wear and tear on your body. In fact, one of the most appealing benefits is that you can have an extra strenuous workout one day and yet still be able to go swimming the next day without being as sore as you normally would from other types of comparably strenuous workouts. Swimming is, in fact, better than even rest for typical exercise recovery. This is a unique benefit you don’t often hear about.
By ensuring your entire family is capable and able to swim, parents can ensure that even when unmonitored for even the briefest moments, that the kids and grandkids have knowledge and capability to recover from a slip and fall possibility around a pool, lake, river, or ocean.
Familiarity with swimming dangers and safety does prevent Drownings, The CDC lists drowning under “unintentional injuries”, which is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 24.
4. Weight loss
The weight loss benefits of swimming are the result of the burning of calories by the stimulating and exerting of your approximately 24 different muscles against dense water resistance. This is because water is approximately 800 times denser than air, therefore each stroke and kick is a more thorough workout for your entire body. The result is that you’re burning calories as you swim which in turn creates a continuous systematic reaction that increases your metabolism.
Combined with a healthy, well-balanced diet, people who are willing to commit themselves to a scheduled swimming activity should be able to lose weight. Anyone who is willing to spending 30-60 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week on a regularly scheduled swimming activity will notice a slimmer “you” in the mirror. Not to mention that looking good in a bathing suit is oftentimes the purpose of losing weight in the first place.
5. Heart healthy
The aerobic nature of swimming provides a greater degree of circulation which in turn improves your heart function. Frequent swimming refines your heart muscles ability to elevate and subsequently decelerate your heart rate. This, in turn, can decrease your resting pulse rate, the end result is that it will typically improve overall heart and respiratory function.
Studies indicate that swimming for approximately 30 minutes every day, provides a reduction in your risk of coronary heart disease by 30-40%, according to the American Heart Association. In conjunction, this research indicates that regular swimming can lower bad cholesterol or LDL levels in the blood and raise good cholesterol or HDL levels.
6. Physical therapy
When individuals are injured or in recovery, especially when the injury is to the lower extremities, therapists will oftentimes include a swimming regimen as a means to rehabilitate, as well as, maintain the individual’s fitness level. That’s because the resistance of the water makes the muscles work hard without the strain or impact that is experienced by more severe exercises.
Water therapy is often utilized for these Adverse conditions:
- Hip/knee/joint replacements
- Limited weight bearing capability
- Difficulty walking or running
- Growth or bone spurs affecting movement
- Spinal debilitation that affects normal workouts due to pain, immobility and/or compression.
- Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
7. Total body workout
The figurative work smarter analogy is that your body experiences more resistance and hence a more rigorous workout for the equivalent time spent doing something else. And because you are moving your entire body through water which is 800 times denser than air, every stroke and kick that you exert has more resistance than other land-based exercises.
Swimming works muscles in the hamstrings, abdominals, gluteals, quadriceps, biceps and triceps. The various different strokes emphasize different muscle groups. The freestyle emphasizes the deltoids and leg muscles; the breaststroke emphasizes the thighs, biceps and gluteal muscles; the butterfly emphasizes the abdominals, deltoids and leg muscles; and the backstroke emphasizes the triceps and leg muscles.
8. Family activity
Swimming is the ideal way to bond as a family unit, especially if parents in general (for even a short time) can get the entire family away from their laptops, televisions, cellphones, tablets, video games, and or talking virtual assistants.
It might seem macro big picture-ish, however our future selves would indubitably agree, that the short-term appeal of addicting electronics will never compare to the long-term memories of squeals, splashes, giggles, laughter, and/or sighs of contentment.
Plus, pools promotes family bonding and interaction by serving as a great locale for social events. Having a backyard resort provides a wonderful venue for socializing and gatherings for potlucks, barbecues, and pool parties.
Swimming may also be an affordable exercise option compared to other exercises, like cycling (which has an average cost of $350 and possibly much more). Many family center pools offer reasonable rates to join. Some public schools and other centers offer swim hours for free, or for a sliding scale according to your income.
If you’re still concerned about the costs associated with family center pools, check with your employer’s health insurance. Some offer reimbursements for joining a fitness program.
10. Good for Sleeping
Swimming may have the power to help you sleep better at night.
Approximately one-third of all adults have difficulty falling or remaining asleep which is aptly termed insomnia (Latin for sleepless). Oftentimes physical and emotional stress are a common root cause for this. Even the foreboding of insomnia itself will cause anxiety so that those affected will often end up in a vicious cycle of anxiety and sleep deprivation.
Why is swimming a good way to feel physically tired?
Swimming burns approximately 375 calories an hour compared to walking which burns approximately 225 calories an hour. Also, in conjunction with making you more physically tired, swimming can aid sleep by reducing Stress (as Listed above at #1). Many swimmers find that biophysically, the release of endorphins and natural opiate peptides leaves them feeling happier and more relaxed.
As stated previously, because swimming also requires the rhythmic alternating of push and pull muscles while concurrently breathing in a rhythmic pattern which has similarities to relaxation breathing, this also contributes to the getting yourself in the proper state of mind for a good night’s sleep.
So to summarize, Not only is swimming stress relieving, low impact, safety conscious, burns calories, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps injury recovery, provides a complete workout of the vast majority of your muscles, helps social interaction among your family members, is cheaply accessible if you are cost conscious, and helpful for restorative sleep.
Our final note is that Swimming is also one of the few physical activities that you can pretty much do starting from the time you are a baby to the more graceful elegant age of… (insert life expectancy here).
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