Remember how much fun you had as a kid playing Marco Polo in the pool? Or how you always used to be the best diver (much to the disappointment of your peers)? Floating and daydreaming was on your every day agenda. Well those things are still enjoyable today and can actually improve your overall quality of life, which makes it even better.
Regular swimmers recognize that swimming not only improves their physique, but their health on the inside as well. Swimming’s health benefits are almost unrivaled by most any other activity. Let’s take a look how:
1. Entire Body Workout: Have you ever seen a flabby Olympic swimmer? Didn’t think so. When you swim, you’re working your entire body, improving cardiovascular conditioning, endurance, muscle power, flexibility, and posture. Talk about an adrenaline rush. Your body’s use of oxygen is also improved by swimming because it doesn’t overwork your heart, which benefits your cardiovascular system in particular. Plus, when you’re working all of these things at once, your workouts no longer have to consist of those tedious 36 rep lunges or chest presses at the gym that you dread; swimming consolidates everything into one! Also, water is about 12 times more dense than air, which means swimming > running.
2. Cures What Ails You: Once submerged in water, the human body becomes lighter automatically. When immersed to the waist, 50 percent of your weight is all your body bears; dip yourself up to your chest and your body only bears 25 to 35 percent. Dunk yourself all the way to your neck and your body only bears 10 percent of your weight; the pool handles the remaining 90 percent. This is ideal in that the pool is an excellent place to work out stiff muscles and sore joints, especially if you suffer from arthritis or are overweight. A bonus if the pool is heated, as heat helps to loosen stiff joints from arthritis. Those with a career in medical assisting can aid those in need of aquatic therapy; look online to find someone in your area.
3. Stress Reduction: They’re called ‘lazy rivers’ for a reason; just lying on a tube floating around as you please can be one of the most stress-free activities you ever do. The meditative and healing powers of H2O draw more people to swimming than anything other factor. Pretending you’re a mermaid is a close second. But seriously, more oxygen flows to your muscles and you’re forced to regulate your breathing when swimming. Plus, our bodies are pretty much pre-programmed to like water; we’re made up of 60% of it after all.
4. Heart Healthy: Your ticker likes a challenge every now and then; in order to keep it healthy, regular exercise is necessary. Swimming is an aerobic exercise, which means that it will strengthen the heart, make it larger (no one wants a heart three sizes too small like “The Grinch”), and create better blood flow throughout your body. Aerobic exercise can also fight the body’s inflammatory response as well, something that can lead to heart disease. The American Heart Association states that just a measly amount of exercise a day (at least 30 minutes, people, you can do it) can trim down coronary heart disease by 30 to 40 percent. Just getting your butt off the couch and into the pool or gym also reduces blood pressure. Still not convinced? Ask anyone involved in a health or medical training program, they can offer more information on the benefits.
5. Happy Brain: “The experienced swimmer, when in the water, may be classed among the happiest of mortals in the happiest of moods, and in the most complete enjoyment of the happiest of exercises,” wrote William Wilson in the 1883 book, “The Swimming Instructor.” Need we say more? Swimming simply makes people happy. Endorphins, our body’s feel-good chemicals, are released while swimming, which is probably what our good friend Willy Wilson from the 19th century was talking about without knowing it. It gives us a natural high, which is very similar in comparison to a lot of physical exercises, such as yoga or Pilates. Research has also shown that swimming can help the brain for the better through a process called hippocampal eurogenesis, where the brain replaces cells that have been lost through stress.
Bethany Brewer, loves staying active through swimming and running. When she’s not outdoors, Bethany is freelance writing online usually about medical and health topics. Most recently, Bethany has written about medical assistant schools and other medical college programs.