If you’re looking to get into a sport that boasts a variety of positives – from losing weight to improving fitness – you’ll struggle to find one more fitting than swimming. Here we explain why you should take up swimming as your new hobby this New Year.
Swimming is arguably the only sport you can partake in without risking serious injury. This is because of the non weight-bearing nature of it, and the lack of stress it puts on your joints, unlike running, for example, which many people are physically unable to do. Because the pressure is uniformly distributed, it isn’t concentrated on the likes of your knees and hips, how it would if you weren’t submerged in water.
That being said, whilst injury cases are incredibly rare, and if they do occur, only low-grade, you should certainly warm up and stretch before going all out, as with any strenuous activity.
Being soft on the body is a benefit for those who already have an injury or medical condition, in fact. Osteoarthritis, for example, can be incredibly painful when partaking in any weight-bearing exercises, yet swimming offers some relief and the weightlessness allows for more movement than would be able on dry land.
Because swimming works most of the major muscle groups throughout your body, it’s a great cardiovascular exercise. With water being much denser than air, your body has more pressure put on the limbs than if you weren’t in the water, raising your heart rate and improving your fitness.
If you frequently visit the swimming pool, and are able to improve on your technique, you will quickly see a difference in how much more efficient you are as a swimmer, and how further you can actually go. However, even if you are at a low swimming level, the benefits on your physical fitness will be drastic enough to be noticed in no time at all.
With swimming able to work your whole body more than any other form of cardio exercise, it’s no wonder the swimmer’s body is so revered. Whilst the likes of running and cycling mostly target your lower body, swimming incorporates most of your body’s major muscle groups, helping you tone all of your muscles in unison.
Great for working your core muscles, lats and back, and upper arms, with consistent and relatively intense sessions at the pool, you’ll be able to not only build a slim and toned physique, but also increase your natural strength.
There are a variety of health benefits that have been found to come from swimming. Training in the water has shown a decrease in blood pressure in people with hypertension, as well as reducing arterial stiffness, which can cause some heart troubles.
It is also a great exercise for those who are overweight, as the buoyancy assists with the aches and discomfort of various out-of-water aerobic exercises, as well as having the water offering a cool-down mechanism, reducing the likelihood of overheating. Although swimming may not burn calories as quickly as some other more intense forms of exercise, with frequent sessions, it will certainly help in losing weight.
Another bonus is the positive effects it can have on one’s back and posture. With many of us sitting in unnatural positions through driving and slouched at desks, swimming essentially slightly arches the back in the opposite direction which gives it a much needed rest and stretch, helping to reduce the chance of back injuries.
It is now quite common knowledge that physical activity has positive effects on people’s mental health, but research suggests swimming is particularly effective.
Lowering stress levels, incidences of depression, and anxiety, raising mood and improving sleep, are just some benefits that can be experienced through frequent swimming. And it’s not only swimming lengths that have a positive effect on the mind; partaking in a water aerobics class is just as effective and may be more suited to those who aren’t such strong swimmers.
The reasons behind these benefits are not only down to the endorphins released, like with all types of exercise, but it may also be due to a natural, positive response of simply being in the water. This, combined with a sense of community with others in the pool and the opportunity to make new friends, makes swimming an incredibly positive experience for anybody looking to improve their life for a variety of different reasons.
Image credit: http://www.labspa.co.uk/
Written by freelance writer Leanne Thompson. When she’s not coming up with new content you can find her baking, traveling, and attending fitness bootcamps.