Swimming is a great form of exercise which has positive effects on both your physical and mental health. You don’t even have to be a strong swimmer to reap the benefits – it’ll help you stay active and healthy no matter what your ability! Here are a few good reasons to incorporate swimming into your routine.
- It’s an aerobic exercise – a type you should be getting plenty of. Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, enabling better blood flow throughout your body and increasing your life expectancy.
- It gives you a full body workout, unlike many other forms of exercise which work out isolated muscle groups. Swimming involves using muscles in your legs, core, chest, back, shoulders and hands.
- It improves both your strength and your stamina, which means it’ll help other physical activities feel a little easier.
- It’s great for burning calories and helping you shed excess weight, or maintain a healthy weight.
- It’s been linked to a reduced risk of a number of chronic illnesses and health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, dementia and type 2 diabetes.
- It’s a suitable form of exercise even for those who typically struggle with other physical activities, such as people with disabilities, injuries or joint problems. This is because the water can support up to 90% of the body’s weight, so swimming puts very little strain on your body and joints.
- It’s great for relieving stress because the physical activity releases mood-boosting endorphins and many find being in the water very calming. It lets your mind float away, giving you a break from your worries.
- It’s fun! A lot of people find it difficult to build up or persevere with a regular exercise routine because they think of it as dull, but swimming is one of the more enjoyable forms of exercise.
If you’d like to fit this easy and beneficial activity into your routine, find your nearest pool and get swimming! If you’re worried about an existing health condition, check with your doctor before you start, but otherwise there’s no reason not to get stuck in right away. You can swim alone or you can join a group if you’d like to make it a more social activity.
Sea Swimming – Good for the Health?
Remember, swimming doesn’t have to be limited to the local swimming pool. In fact, according to a number of recent studies, you’ll enjoy additional health benefits if you choose to dive into the sea instead.
A study carried out in the Czech Republic found that those who took a dip in cold water three times a week enjoyed a noticeable increase in their numbers of white blood cells, which help the body to fight infection. Other research, published in Skin Research and Technology found that sea water is beneficial to the skin, and can help to reduce psoriasis.
Professor Michael Tipton, from Portsmouth University, adds: ‘People say they feel great after a sea or river swim, which may be because the chilly water activates cold sensors all over our bodies – cells positioned just 0.18 millimetres under our skin – which in turn increase heart rate and give us that “alive” feeling… that diverts our attention away from our aches and pains, creating the feel-good factor. It’s effectively a natural painkiller.’
Time to Take the Plunge?
Whether you prefer swimming in a pool or diving into a nearby river, it’s undeniable that swimming can really make a difference when it comes to your health. If you have an existing health condition, remember to talk to your GP before starting any new form of exercise.
If you’ve never been swimming before, remember it’s never too late to begin. There are plenty of adult classes available to get you started, which focus on building water confidence and improving your stroke. It doesn’t matter if you only make small improvements – the activity will make a big difference to your health whether you’re an experienced swimmer or a beginner.