Swimming has been called the perfect exercise. After all, you can get all of the benefits of an aerobic workout without any damaging impact on joints, and it can be done by both the very old and the very young.
It is utilized by athletes to stay strong and keep fit when recovering from injury, and there is no fancy equipment needed—just you and the deep blue.
Swimming has many more benefits that those obvious advantages seen on the surface; its improvements to overall health go much deeper.
1. Aids Weight Loss
Swimming burns calories. “Regular swimming will keep you active and fit. Swimming combines cardio and muscle training. When we are submerged, our bodies struggle to maintain balance and manage their own weight, which causes our heart rate to increase, muscles to work harder, and calories to be burned, resulting in weight loss,” states Eshanka Wahi, wellness coach and founder of ‘Eat Clean with Eshanka.’
2. Helps Reduce Stress
One of the key factors why one should swim is that it reduces the anxiety and stress that most of us face due to our busy lives. “Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. It stimulates the release of endorphins, a hormone that lessens the perception of pain and stress. Moreover, being submerged in water reduces the amount of sensory information that bombards your body, aiding in the onset of the feeling of calm. In addition, swimming, as a form of exercise, can release powerful chemicals in your brain that energise you and make you feel good,” adds Eshanka Wahi.
3. Prevents Injuries
Studies suggest that swimming boosts bone density with no impact on the joints at all, thereby strengthening the body against fractures.“Another reason why one should visit the pool more often is that swimming is a low-impact sport and provides more resistance than land training. Anyone from the age of 5 to 90 can swim, reaping its myriad benefits without the fear of getting injured. Since it is a low-impact sport, swimming is also great for people recovering from an injury,” adds Aditya Berry.
4. It Improves Flexibility
Swimming consistently aids flexibility. “This benefit of swimming may surprise you, but water is one of the best mediums to increase flexibility. It has long been known to help in increasing flexibility due to reasons such as buoyancy, water resistance, and water temperature. As we swim, we feel lighter or a little weightless. Additionally, the smoothness of our movements helps lengthen and stretch muscles rather than make them tighten or stiffen,” says Vinita Contractor, holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach.
5. Strengthens The Entire Body
Swimming is an excellent way to work out your entire body. “Swimming increases your heart rate without stressing your body. It tones muscles, builds endurance and strengthens your body. While your muscles are getting a good workout, your cardiovascular system is, as well. Swimming makes your heart and lungs strong,” remarks Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, obesity and weight loss expert.
6. Swimming Can Help You Live Longer
Studies show that regular exercise, swimming included, may increase your longevity. According to a 2017 report commissioned by Swim England, swimmers had a 28 percent lower risk of early death and a 41 percent lower risk of death due to heart disease and stroke compared with those who don’t swim.
7. Swimming Can Help Keep You Lean
Swimming is a full-body workout. “Swimming engages everything from the arms, shoulders, and legs to the core, glues, and back,” Radermacher says. That means you get a lot of metabolic benefit for your cardio buck, he explains.
In an hour, a 155-pound person can burn about 432 calories swimming versus about 266 calories walking at a moderate pace, according to Harvard Medical School. A study published in 2021 in BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation found that 16 weeks of swimming led to significant reductions in body fat and BMI.
8. Those Laps Can Strengthen Your Lungs
If you’ve been diagnosed with a lung condition like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you might like hearing that the lungs are one of the biggest benefactors from swimming, according to Swim England’s report.
“Swimming trains the muscles involved with respiration, meaning it can enhance lung volume and aid breathing technique,” says Power, who wasn’t involved with the Swim England report. Plus, if you have asthma, the pool provides an ideal exercise setting, as it’s humid, warm, and, usually, a low-pollen environment.
But if you have a lung or other condition that could interfere with your ability to exercise, check with your doctor before starting a swim routine.
9. Swimming May Boost Brain Power
Exercise in general has been associated with improving cognition, but when researchers studied the specific benefits of swimming on cognition, they found a unique benefit.
In one small study from the journal Physiological Reports, participants who did a 20-minute, moderate-intensity swim processed visual information and responded faster on cognitive tests conducted right before and immediately after their swim. Although it’s a small effect (about 4 percent on average), the fact that the workout made a measurable difference after just one occasion is notable, Dr. Cotter says. Another study published in Physiological Reports linked swimming with improved short- and long-term memory in mice.
Both studies are somewhat preliminary (given the size and that the second one was an animal study), but the researchers of both concluded that the data suggest further study is warranted.
10. The Water Workout May Put You in a Better Mood
All exercise can be a mood booster. But a study published in 2003 in the Journal of Psychology found that a single session of swimming improved mood even more than a single session of aerobic dance (similar improvements in mood were linked with yoga and Feldenkrais movement, a body awareness practice, in the population of women studied). “Due to the release of happiness chemicals in the brain, specifically endorphins dopamine and serotonin, regular swimming can reduce stress, lower anxiety, and combat depression,” Radermacher says.
11. Swimming May Help You Sleep
Improved sleep is a perk of sticking to just about any exercise routine. And that includes swimming. “Exercise helps reset your body’s internal clock and restores your natural circadian rhythm,” Radermacher says.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America poll (PDF), which focused on sleep and exercise, people who participated in aerobic exercise reported sleeping better; 76 to 83 percent of those who did light, moderate, or vigorous exercise reported very good or fairly good sleep quality versus 56 percent of non-exercisers. In the survey, swimming was categorized as a type of vigorous aerobic activity. What’s more, exercisers spent more time in restorative deep sleep.