benefits of swimming

What are the Benefits of Swimming?

Swimming is a low-impact aerobic exercise that can be an excellent alternative if you have difficulty exercising on land. In addition, swimming is a complete exercise that engages different muscle groups simultaneously, your cardiovascular fitness and much more. It’s time to understand what the benefits of swimming are!

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How Many Calories Does Swimming Burn?

On average, swimming can burn 200 to 450 kcal in 30 minutes of physical activity. These numbers may vary depending on your body, exercise intensity, and technique used. Some styles of swimming demand greater physical performance, like the butterfly.

That’s why you must start with simpler swimming styles but work to improve your technique over time. In this sense, your gains are completely related to your performance – be it weight loss, mass muscle gain, or reaching better health.

Swimming Benefits

1. It’s a Full Body Workout

Swimming stands out compared to other physical activities, especially for working almost all the human body muscles simultaneously. By swimming frequently, you strengthen the muscles in your legs, back, core, arms, and chest. In this sense, you must try different styles of swimming as specific swimming styles can recruit other muscles.

2. Burn Extra Calories

In addition to being a full-body workout, which can build muscle mass and increase strength, swimming is an excellent tool to burn extra calories. The fact that swimming hits different muscle groups simultaneously and requires coordination, balance, and cardiovascular fitness, makes swimming more demanding on the body when compared to other sports practices.

Example: According to this calorie expenditure calculator, a 70 kg (or 155 lbs) individual expends approximately 350 kcal in 30 minutes of vigorous swimming, while 30 minutes of jogging would consume 245 kcal. These numbers can vary from person to person, but they are still a reasonable estimate for you to understand the potential of swimming.

3. Swimming is for Everyone

Swimming is a low impact aerobic (or cardiovascular) exercise, making it a highly inclusive physical activity. It is an excellent exercise for children, adults and older people, and even those who have suffered injuries or live with long term health conditions.

If you have difficulty exercising on land, swimming can be an excellent strategy to begin your fitness journey. As always, we recommend that you talk to your doctor before including any different physical activities in your routine.

4. Boost your Mental Health

There are several mental health benefits for those who exercise regularly. Aerobic exercises, such as swimming, are responsible for promoting well being and lowering stress levels. That happens because when you exercise frequently, your body starts to produce more dopamine, also known as the “feel-good hormone”.

Furthermore, exercising can promote other gains, improving your quality of life and, consequently, your mental health. Some of them are sleep improvements, increased interest in sex, increased energy and stamina, as well as reduced tiredness and increased mental alertness.

5. Improves your Cardiovascular Fitness and Health Overall

In addition to improving your endurance, helping with weight loss and building muscle mass, aerobic exercise such as swimming can also help lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular fitness.

According to this publication by Harvard Health, a study of 46,000 participants (men and women) indicated that swimmers and runners had the best measures of cardiovascular health compared to other activities.

There may also be a relationship between swimming and longevity. Another research that studied mortality among men aged 20 to 90 years (approximately 40 thousand participants) for 13 years of follow-up indicated that only 2% of swimmers died. Science still has a lot to explore in this field, but it’s still interesting to see how swimming seems to stand out over other exercises.

Besides that, a third study also shows that, compared to other sports, swimming has a more significant potential to decrease the severity of asthma in children and adolescents.

How Do I Get Started with Swimming?

1. Look for a Gym or a Specialized Professional

Don’t ignore this tip, especially if you’ve never swum before or are just starting. While many people find swimming easy, this activity is much more complex than it sounds. Swimming correctly involves:

  • Having flexibility.
  • Keep your body balanced on the surface of the water.
  • Performing coordinated movements.
  • Use strength, in addition to mastering your breathing.

By reproducing the swimming mechanisms wrongly, you will spend more energy and have less propulsion in the water. Also, swimming correctly ensures that you improve your posture and flexibility, so if you can, look for classes to learn properly!

2. Practice in Safe Places

Do not swim in seas, rivers, lakes, or any place where you might lose control of the situation. If you are starting, you must practice in a safe environment to develop your technique and confidence.

In this sense, you must swim in a shallow pool, supervised by someone who can correct you and help you in an emergency. Although swimming is an inclusive sport for all ages, you should never put yourself at risk. Your health must be your priority at all times.

3. Choose a Technique

Because there are so many different techniques for swimming, the start can be a bit overwhelming. Be concerned about perfecting a swimming style first, such as freestyle, and when you master it, start learning a new one.

Complex swim mechanisms like the butterfly will require a lot more strength, coordination and endurance, so it may take some time before you can do it correctly. Try to find a style that is easier for you, and stick to it at the beginning.

4. Spend Time in the Water

You will improve your performance with consistency and time, so you must have a training routine, as in any other sport. Start slowly, but keep in mind that your body will adapt over time, so you should aim for continual progression.

Talk to a doctor or specialist to understand how many times you can swim per week and under what circumstances.

What Equipment do I Need for Swimming?

You don’t need a lot of equipment to start swimming. The only prerequisites are a swimsuit, bathing caps, goggles and a towel. It is also important that you have a water bottle nearby to hydrate before, during and after swimming.

Some of the secondary equipment you may have include fins, snorkels, kickboards, and hand paddles, which can help you if you are a beginner. 

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