There are so many benefits to swimming. In fact, very few exercises have all of the benefits I’m about to describe to you. As you know from my post Workout Schedule I incorporate about three swims a week and I truly look forward to these workouts. Swim workouts feels great and are good for me. Here’s a few reasons why:
#1 – Swimming is both a cardio and strength building workout
On any given day, I will go back and forth trying to decide whether to do a cardio or strength building workout. A big factor in my decision tends to hang on what I did the day before, and if I’m still sore from the experience. Not with swimming, though!
Swimming is both a cardio and strength building exercise. It is primarily the former, as you build both your heart and lung capacity when swimming. Serving as a great aerobic exercise, swimming can be something you do every day to train the interior muscles of your body.
Swimming is also great for strength building as the resistance of the water provides your body a challenge you wouldn’t otherwise gain while on land. What’s more, swimming works muscles that you wouldn’t normally pay attention to or exercise on a regular basis. These include upper body muscles like pectorals, deltoids, biceps and triceps as well as lower body muscles like calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Swimming will also work your core muscles, to include your abdominals, gluteals, ribcage intercostals, chest pectorals and hip stabilizers. The water’s resistance also causes your muscles to both contract and stretch, which is great for building long-lasting, flexible, and resilient muscle fibers.
Basically, swimming is a full body workout and you’re working both your interior muscles, like the heart and lungs, and your exterior muscles.
#2 – Swimming is peaceful and helps me clear my mind
Unlike other workouts that involve music, throwing weights, dodging other runners as you run around an endless track, and so many other distractions, swimming is incredible at focusing and clearing my mind.
It’s almost a spiritual experience. I’m truly able to clear my mind and focus on moving forward through the water and managing my breath. There’s very few workouts that afford a similar experience. For those who don’t like the traditional form of meditating where you sit on the floor and close your eyes, swimming may be a good alternative that produces a lot of the same results.
I also recommend a regular yoga practice…but that’s another blog post 😉
#3 – Swimming builds your lung capacity for other workouts
One of the truly great things about swimming is that it serves multiple purposes. Like I said above, it’s both a strength and cardio workout. Swimming also helps build your lung capacity for other activities that you might enjoy or want to train for. Those who train for races, for example, will benefit from swimming because it challenges their lungs and aerobic capabilities in a different way.
According to an article written by Effortless Swimming called How to Increase Lung Capacity While Swimming, one of the best ways to increase lung capacity is to set mini breathing goals for yourself when you swim. For example, if you’re swimming laps, tell yourself to breath x amount of times per lap or x amount of times per stroke. You can build on to the amount of time between breathing and strokes or laps within the same exercise, or gradually as you become more confident in your swimming.
The point is to measure and to build incrementally. Incrementally…see what I did there?! 😀
The author of the article linked above also notes other areas to help you increase your lung capacity, like technique and mindset.
#5 – Swimming is easy on your joints
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but unlike many exercises, swimming is easy on your joints. You don’t have the impact of running on the pavement or jumping up and down on a wooden box or mat.
#6 – You don’t sweat! At least, you don’t feel like you’re sweating
This reason could really be number one in my book. With swimming, you don’t feel like you’re sweating! But it’s an incredible cardio workout and if you were on land, you’d definitely be feeling the perspiration. I actually don’t mind sweating, but when I want to get a quick workout in it’s nice to have an alternative that doesn’t involve washing my hair afterwards and spending too much time in the shower.
Oh, and one more bonus benefit…
#7 – Swimming is a great workout when/if you’re pregnant
Swimming is a fantastic exercise when you’re pregnant, for many of the reasons I stated above. Certainly check with your doctor first, but my doctor has recommended swimming, yoga, and other low impact exercises for the entire duration of my pregnancy. For the most part, the medical world will say that regular exercise is fine during pregnancy if you were exercising prior to getting pregnant. For me, swimming has provided a great stretching, cardio, and muscle building exercise that isn’t hard on my body while it’s already working overtime.
In a pool/in water, you weigh a tenth of what you would on land. This fact alone is incredible while you’re pregnant and feeling absolutely gigantic, heavy, and unable move around like you’re used to. Some articles on this topic have also noted that swimming can relieve some of the common pregnancy complaints, like ankle and foot swelling, keeping cool, sciatic pain, and morning sickness. Maintaining your muscle tone and endurance is also super important for your future labor, delivery, and postpartum experience.
Please note that it’s important to stay away from the hot tub, saunas, and super hot baths. Spending too much time in any one of these can raise your body temperature too high and increase the risk for miscarriage, and brain and spinal cord abnormalities. This is particularly true during the first trimester of pregnancy.