The 10 best health benefits of swimming

by Douglas Ross on Sunday 03 September 2023

3 min read

If you’re looking for a form of exercise that helps you build muscle, reduce stress, develop your fitness levels – all without any risk of a sprained ankle or knee injury –  then swimming is your go-to choice!

1. A full-body workout that’s easier on your body

Give your joints a rest! Water takes the pressure off and supports your body weight, which is great for those with joint pain, arthritis or an injury. And then comes the workout. Swimming forces you to use multiple muscle groups at once with a natural resistance. This means it’s a natural form of resistance training that helps you build strength on those muscles that are harder to isolate. Exercising muscles in unison as a form of foundational training is a great way avoid overloading any one group of muscles and protect yourself from injury.

2. A healthy heart

This is a big one. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and exercise plays a pivotal role in helping us protect ourselves from it. If you’ve ever tried a lap in the pool, you know how quickly it gets your heart rate up! As a cardiovascular exercise, swimming gets your heart beating faster, pumping blood throughout your body, reduces blood pressure and can help you manage your cholesterol levels. Taking many years to develop, heart disease should be on everyone’s minds. So, the sooner you strap into some speedos, the sooner you can protect yourself.

3. Find some more flexibility

While you can’t isolate muscles quite like yoga and other targeted stretching, swimming does help you stretch out muscles at the same time as building them. How? It forces you to stretch out your limbs and muscles while performing a full-range of motion to move yourself forward. This, coupled with resistance from the water, can help you develop more flexibility in your muscles and connecting tissues.

4. Slip into that ‘feel good’ feeling

Swimmers out there will agree, there’s nothing quite like getting a good rhythm going in the water and feeling powerful, weightless and streamlined. Channel your inner dolphin! Swimming is a great way to release dopamine, which helps you feel fantastic for many hours afterwards and is also associated with lower levels of stress and, most importantly, better sleep!

In contrast to team sports or group workouts, swimming offers an intimate personal experience. It immerses you in a tranquil underwater world, where your entire focus is on your breath, free from any external distractions. With each stroke, you effortlessly let go of all those lingering thoughts, leaving you not only revitalised but with clear mind - a breath of fresh air from our busy lifestyles!

5. Get an opera singer’s lungs

One of the biggest learning curves to swimming is figuring out your breathing. Once you do, swimming is one of the best exercises for building up your lung capacity. If you’re struggling with your breathing, practice exhaling underwater, use your body turn more when taking a breath and use a kickboard to get comfortable.

6. Help your back and posture

Swimming forces you to be conscious of your body position, to stretch out and keep your core firm, while also engaging in resistance training. This all combines to help improve your posture and push back on the effects of sitting in an office chair all day.

7. Improve your blood sugar levels

All exercise helps you improve your insulin sensitivity, especially aerobic exercise. When your cells become more sensitive to insulin, they can absorb and process glucose more effectively, reducing how much of it is stored as fat. That dopamine release also helps reduce stress, which can help you reduce your blood sugar levels.

8. Great when pregnant

It can be hard to find an exercise that is safe on your body and your baby during pregnancy. Of course, always follow the advice of your doctor, but swimming can be a great exercise to add to the mix. That improved circulation and the hydrostatic pressure of the water can help women experiencing swelling or fluid retention. Add to that all of the benefits mentioned in this article, and swimming can support a healthy mum and baby.

9. Soak up some sun

Stripping down to your swimmers and getting some sun can be a great way to boost your vitamin D levels. It can be hard to get enough when we spend all day inside and only head outdoors on the weekend. Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin from the sun and is a vital hormone linked to immune health, bone health, mental health and more! We’re constantly finding out new things about Vitamin D’s role, but remember to make sure you’re being sun smart.

10. Protect yourself from colds

Yes, swimming can help protect you from the common cold. It helps reduce inflammation in your body, supports better sleep for improved health, builds stronger blood circulation so immune cells can get around your body more easily, while stress levels are reduced which can help you avoid those colds.

So, what are you waiting for? Introduce some swimming into your exercise routine and talk to your personal trainer about how best to structure and track your training.

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