Swimming is a fantastic sport for people of all ages and all abilities. With the cooling and weightlessness effect of the water, exercising can be coming, enjoyable, and still have a powerful effect on making changes to your body for the better.
With the effects of exercise on the brain and mood, and the rhythmic strokes or peaceful floating, swimming is comprised of well-being for both mind and body.
In this article, we’re going to learn more about swimming as a sport and as leisure, the kinds of people who can benefit from it (hint: everyone!), how it impacts your brain, and how you can use it to reach your weight loss goals.
- Swimming as a Sport
- Swimming as a Leisure Activity
- Your Brain While Swimming
- Exercise Benefits
- Lengthen Your Lifespan
- Swimming is For Everyone
Swimming as a Sport
Swimming is a popular sport that involves one’s entire body in water and moving through it with different types of arm and leg movements called ‘strokes.’
People are most familiar with the sport through watching competitive swimming, where swimmers race for a certain length. It is a very popular sport worldwide and is performed in numerous international competitions such as the Olympic Games.
To swim, skills and techniques are honed to achieve regular speed and agility when swimming in competitions. It might look like a short race, but it does involve a lot of effort and skill in professional swimming.
The Challenge of Competitive Swimming
Swimming involves exercising the entire body. It is easy for anyone to learn how to swim, but it will take practice and commitment to become a good swimmer.
It is a highly competitive sport where you have to use and maintain a great burst of speed generated from your arms and feet.
Water is about 900 times denser than air, so the resistance allows for greater strength-building and conditioning.
Swimming as a Leisure Activity
Swimming is one of the most common leisure activities and can be enjoyed alone or within a group. Whether you’re at your local pool, your own pool, or at the beach or lake, the positive effects of moving around in the water can be felt with little effort.
Enjoying swimming as a leisure activity is much different than competitive swimming. There is no race against the clock and it is not necessary to rapidly execute your strokes to swim a distance as fast as you can.
Leisure swimming can be calming, at your own pace, rhythmic, and soothing, with nothing but the sounds underwater or your thoughts to keep you company.
The feeling of gliding through the water, floating at the surface, and the cool water on your skin, can be incredibly therapeutic. Not to mention the endorphins from the exercise, you will feel excellent in body and mind after a swim.
Health Benefits of Swimming
This water-based exercise comes with a lot of benefits for swimmers, be it as a sport, a leisure activity, or as a form of exercise.
Being submerged in water means having an environment that has reduced weight-bearing stress and lesser heat load, which means there are lots of important benefits that can be derived from it.
Good for all age groups, it has proven to enhance performance in kids and helps the elderly stay mentally agile.
Swimming and Brain Health
A truly important benefit derived from swimming is how it boosts brain health. Studies have shown that just being in water increases the blood flow to the brain.
Researchers experimented by immersing participants into chest-level water and measuring the flow of blood to the brain and compared it to when the subjects were outside the water.
The findings showed more blood flow in the brain while in the water, indicating a strong, positive impact on brain health while swimming as healthy blood flow to the brain is important for supplying it with nutrients as well as oxygen and glucose.
And because swimming helps the brain so much, it, in turn, helps the whole body itself.
Mental Benefits of Swimming
Swimming releases feel-good hormones, endorphins, which make one happy and increases positivity. Not saying that all swimmers are optimists, but by swimming, these bodily functions happen even without you knowing it is making you happy or feel good.
As a leisure activity, it is also a good way to relieve stress. It has a way of preserving your mental health by soothing the nerves, reducing anxiety, and relaxing the body.
With the endorphin hormones released, it makes you calmer. After a hectic week, swimming is recommended to help you relax and revitalizes you for another week ahead.
Swimming is an ideal form of exercise as with the movement of the body, your heart pumps clean, fresh blood faster. Regular exercise is important, and if you are unable to participate in more strenuous exercises, swimming is an excellent choice.
Healthy blood flow protects the brain from other harmful toxins. It aids the functioning of the brain which directly leads to good cognition, proper bodily functions and systems, and all the central nervous system processes that are essential for our survival.
There are so many benefits that come from swimming. It builds aerobic endurance, increases muscle strength, tones muscles, and strengthens your lungs and breathing capacity.
It also helps to improve aspects of yourself that will benefit you in everyday life as well, such as correcting posture, flexibility, coordination, and balance. This is also what helps benefit elderly people, for whom being weak in any of these areas could be fatal.
Swimming for Weight Loss
What to shake off that extra weight? Swimming not only makes you relaxed and replenished, as a form of exercise, but it also burns excess fat from the body. It is a safer, easier form of weight loss and works out to be substituted for weight-loss drugs, and strenuous workouts.
Even a slow or moderate pace of swimming can amount to a substantial number of calories burned. Because swimming is a full-body sport, calories are burned more quickly and easily.
Also, because of the stress-busting benefits of swimming, weight loss is easier. Many studies have shown that the stress hormone cortisol is an inhibiting factor in weight-loss. So using swimming to manage your stress will also help you to shed extra weight.
Swimming is For Anyone
Swimming is a commonly recommended form of exercise for demographics who generally need more mild forms of exercise. It can also protect the body from potential diseases and the effects of infectious germs.
Groups like the elderly, pregnant women, and people suffering from long-term illness can use it to keep their bodily functions in shape, without having to exert themselves too much.
Swimming to Help With MS
It is that important that swimming can be used as a low-end therapeutic agent. It is used for some injuries and conditions as a good form of water therapy.
A good example is Multiple Sclerosis, which people with this condition have found water therapy, in particular, swimming to be a good form of therapy and a way to keep fit.
With the aforementioned health benefits, there are several ways swimming can help extend your life span. Inactiveness is a great cause of ill health, and people who do no exercise at all are more prone to a shorter lifespan than those who do any form of exercise each day.
Diseases such as diabetes and heart failure are common effects of inactivity and lack of exercise.
But because of the high rate obtaining during swimming, the risks of death by heart disease and stroke are greatly reduced. In fact, in another study carried out on 80,000 people, swimmers had a 24% lower risk of early death and 41% lower risk of death caused by heart diseases and stroke.
Add 10 Years to Your Life
According to a study out of Northwestern University in Chicago, adding swimming to a healthy lifestyle can add as much as 10 years to your lifespan.
Heart disease researcher Jeremiah Stamler, M.D., of Northwestern says the death rate from heart disease is 80% lower in swimmers who eat well and don’t smoke. These were his findings from the above study conducted on mostly middle-aged people, meaning it’s never too late to start and see the effects!
When it comes to swimming, Stamler says, less is more. Keeping up a consistent routine is more important than striving to be better or faster.
Have you considered swimming as a regular activity yet? What is stopping you? It offers lots of benefits for children, adults, and the elderly alike. It does not discriminate against gender, color, culture, and gives the same benefits to everyone.
As well as the calming effect it gives, swimming also has other tremendous health benefits that we detailed in this article. Hopefully, you learned more about how swimming can enhance your well-being.