We all know that swimming is great exercise with great benefits – It increases muscle tone and strength, is great cardio so helps work towards a healthy heart and can even improve symptoms of asthma.Swimming can be a competitive sport but also a an easy sport to do by yourself, for fun and for exercise. All you need is training swimwear for serious swimmwers or at least a chlorine resistant swimwsuit, and swimming accessories such as swim goggles, a silicone swim cap.
However, it seems the benefits of swimming go much deeper, and could even be the sport to try if you suffer with sports injuries, or afflictions such as arthritis.
Swimming as an alternative
As a former cross country runner, I was devastated when an injury to my shins meant my legs could no longer cope with the heavy impact of running, and could possibly impact my dance training as well. I was doubtful when swimming was suggested to me as an alternative to help me recover, as it is generally considered “low-impact”. However, many scientists suggest that swimming allows you to work harder when exercising, without harsh impact to the skeletal system – when you are in a pool with water all the way to your neck, you only have to bear 10% of your weight, the water does all the rest. Swimming allows you to stretch and work muscles whilst getting an aerobic exercise, without any significant impact on the skeleton, great for if you suffer muscle or joint problems.
- Breast stroke is best for stretching and working legs and hips, and is a good stroke to start with if, like myself, you don’t swim often.
- Backstroke aids posture, provided you do it right – ensure you are staring at the ceiling and not towards your feet!
- Freestyle is helps strengthen arms, and is good for if you have breathing problems such as asthma, as you learn to control your breaths.
- Butterfly is the most aerobic of the strokes, great for if you want more of a work out.
Slim down, tone up with swimming
If you watched the Olympics this year, no doubt you will have seen the swimmers – and how toned they are. Because swimming requires you to propel yourself through water, which 12 times as dense as air, every movement becomes a resistance exercise, building muscle strength and tone. Swimming also helps to speed up your metabolism, as it is good cardio – this means more calories are burned during exercise, and also that your body burns more calories in general (so that ice cream wasn’t such a guilty pleasure after all).
And the good news is, swimming is gentle enough that it is suitable exercise if you suffer from arthritis or osteoporosis (it has been proven to help with the pain), and is also recommended exercise if you are pregnant! The lack of strain on your body means you can continue to exercise without any risk to yourself or your baby.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
All exercise helps with body confidence and a healthy mental attitude towards life but swimming is said to be particularly relaxing, and helps to get you nice and chilled for the summer! Even more of a reason to get that swimsuit out …