7 Ways Swimming Can Improve Your Health
South Florida can be a paradise of water-related recreational activities, and with the average annual temperature rarely dipping below 80, pools, lakes, and beaches can be enjoyed here all year round. But if you don’t know how to swim, you’re likely missing out on the many opportunities our area has to offer. You are also missing out on the many health benefits of swimming regularly. Here are seven reasons why this should be the year that you and/or your children learn to swim.
1. Swimming can save your life.
Here in Florida, the importance of water safety simply can’t be overstated. According to the Florida Department of Health website, more children between the ages of one and four drown here than in any other state in the country. Most young children drown in swimming pools, which means that most of these tragic deaths are preventable. Swimming lessons teach water safety, including techniques for staying afloat until help can reach you.
2. Swimming is easy on the joints.
Most people equate exercise with jogging or aerobics classes. These kinds of activities are considered “high-impact” because every time your feet strike the ground, your body is absorbing the same amount of force as if you were just struck by an object that weighs twice as much as you do. This is why over time, high impact exercises can weaken or damage joints in your feet, ankles, legs, and hips. For people who already have joint problems, for older individuals concerned about bone density, or for those who do not already have a basic level of physical fitness, participating in high-impact exercises means risking injury. Swimming, on the other hand, is an extremely low-impact exercise. Because the water keeps you buoyant, there is no pressure on your joints while swimming.
3. You will get fit.
Swimming is an excellent aerobic workout that can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure. Building endurance as a swimmer benefits your metabolism, as well as your respiratory and cardiovascular health. Swimming also builds muscle. When you swim, you use muscles throughout your entire body, including your core, glutes, and back. With every kick or stroke, these muscles are countering the resistance of the water, which is around twelve times that of air. For a more strenuous workout, it’s also easy to add resistance by using hand-held paddles, foam noodles, or a kickboard. Need more flexibility? Swimming can help there, too, since the range of motion it requires lengthens muscles. Choosing swimming as a form of regular exercise also has the added benefits of improved coordination, balance, and posture. In short, swimming is a one-stop-shop for a total body workout. No more having to divide your time up between strength training and cardio activities.
4. Swimming can help a variety of health conditions.
If you think that you have a physical condition that might rule out swimming for you, think again. Those with arthritis can benefit from swimming because being in the water alleviates stress on the joints. The absence of stress on the joints can help to prevent injuries while you are exercising. Swimming can also help to reduce lower back pain. If you are managing conditions like diabetes or high cholesterol, an aerobic activity like swimming can help you burn calories, shed pounds, and stabilize your blood sugar. It can also help to raise your HDL (good) cholesterol and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Many individuals with physical disabilities such as paraplegia or Multiple Sclerosis, whose exercises options are limited, find that they can benefit from a swimming program. Swimming is also safe during pregnancy, relieving the stress that extra weight can put on muscles and joints. Consult your doctor to discuss how a swimming program can help you manage your specific health condition.
5. Swimming alleviates stress.
It is pretty common knowledge that regular exercise can help to alleviate stress. It releases endorphins, which can boost your mood. Regular exercise also helps you to sleep better. Sleeping well is key to keeping stress levels low, since poor-quality sleep, especially over a prolonged period of time, can negatively affect your memory, your judgment, and your mood. One advantage that swimming has for reducing stress is that entering the water gets you out of your regular element and into a new one, a transition that many people find makes it easier to temporarily let go of the things that usually cause stress.
6. You’re never too young or too old to swim.
Infant swimming classes are available for children as young as six weeks. Children as young as three or four are able to learn to swim competently. And unlike many sports that people have to give up as they get older, you can swim for your entire life. Because the water supports the body, swimming is a very good option for the elderly, who are not able to participate in high-impact or high-resistance exercises. Swimming is also something that you can do at your own pace.
7. Swimming boosts confidence.
Finally, swimming can benefit your mental health as well. Setting and achieving a goal to master a new skill like swimming makes you feel more confident in every aspect of your life. More confidence means less anxiety, which has both psychological and physiological benefits. More confidence also means a greater chance of success in life in general, as success at mastering one new skill encourages the pursuit of mastery of others.
It is never too late, and it is always the right time for you and/or your child to learn to swim! Lessons with a personal coach can be arranged at any pool that is convenient for you. If you have a swimming pool at home, lessons can even take place right in the privacy of your own pool. Contact me today to set up your first session.