Swim your way to better health!

2014February06_SwimmingWaterSports_ASwimming is an enjoyable, popular way to keep active and enjoy life. Many of us have fond memories of summers spent splashing around at the pool, ¬†taking a dip in the lake and bathing in the ocean. But it’s not just great fun, ¬†it also has some great health benefits including burning calories, improving cardiovascular fitness, and much more.

One of the great benefits of swimming is that it not just exercises the whole body but it is affordable and accessible. So, if you haven’t dipped more than a toe in the water for a while then perhaps the great health benefits swimming brings might be enough to get you to get in the water and swim your way to better health.

Building strength and endurance

Swimming is a low-impact activity that involves the use of major muscle groups like the shoulders, back, glutes, legs and hips and is a great way to build strength and endurance. This is because water is 12 times more resistant than air, which means you will get more of a workout under the water with the same effort. It is a good fitness choice for those who have physical problems or those who experience pain when exercising too.

Research conducted on middle aged sedentary men and women who swam on a regular basis for 12 weeks showed that the participants were able to improve their maximal oxygen consumption by 10% and stroke volume – amount of blood pumped with each beat – by 18%. This translates to people who not only have more endurance but and can handle more activity.

Building muscle mass

Swimming is a great way to tone and build muscles. Keep in mind that water creates more resistance, so each stroke and kick of the legs will build and strengthen muscles especially in the arms, shoulders and legs. Studies have shown that an eight week swimming program can boost tricep muscle mass by up to 23.8%.

Activity for a lifetime

Because swimming is such a low-impact exercise, you can swim for practically your whole life. In fact, the US Masters Swimming Organization has a 100-104 year-old swim group – the oldest age group of any sport. This organization organizes competitions, including open distance swimming, and raises health awareness benefits of swimming for people of all ages.

Because water reduces the impact on joints it is great for those with mobility problems. In fact, swimming is often the first sport athletes are encouraged to partake in after a debilitating injury.

Great alternative exercise when injured

Athletes want to remain in top shape even when they are injured. Swimming is a great way to stay in condition and is often prescribed as part of their rehabilitation process. The water offers forward resistance so muscles are exercised without experiencing strain.

Burning calories

Swimming can burn 500-600 calories per hour depending on how efficient you swim and how buoyant you are. For example,a person weighing 130 lbs swimming a fast freestyle will burn 590 calories per hour. On the other hand, somebody of the same weight will only burn 413 when swimming a slow freestyle. The trick is to swim briskly and to rest less. This increases heart rate and helps you burn more calories as you swim.

Swimming is the second most popular sport in the United States. According to statistics there are over 360 million visits to swimming pools, swim clubs, recreational centers and other swimming venues on a yearly basis. Regular swimming can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as help improve mood and weight loss. Millions of people are reaping the benefits of swimming. Are you?

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