If you aren’t already swimming as part of your fitness regimen, you should be. Swimming is so much better for your body than other cardio exercises like running since there’s literally zero impact on your body. Swimming also engages more muscle groups helping you work more things out at once.
Swimming offers something no other aerobic exercise can: the ability to work your body without harsh impact to your skeletal system. You become lighter in water. When you’re swimming, you only have to bear 10 percent of your own weight as the other 90 percent is handled by the pool.
This is especially important for people with arthritis or other muscle soreness as swimming can alleviate muscle tension. The Arthritis Foundation suggests that people with arthritis engage in activities that stretch muscles, strengthen muscles, and provide an aerobic workout. Swimming does all those things for your body.
While pool water takes away roughly 90% of our body weight, water is twelve times more dense than air. That means it takes twelve times the amount of muscle power for a swimmer to propel him or herself through water than it does for a runner to propel him or herself through the air. Every stroke you take and every kick you make is a resistance exercise, which the most effective way to build muscle. Swimming leads to increased muscular strength and muscle tone, especially compared to other aerobic exercises.
Swimming also helps tremendously with flexibility. Unlike exercise machines in a gym that tend to isolate one body part at a time, swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible. The arms move in wide arcs, the hips are engaged as the legs scissor through the water, and the head and spine twist from side to side. Plus, with every stroke, as you reach forward, you’re lengthening the body, which not only makes it more efficient in the water, it also helps give you a good stretch from head to toe.
If those weren’t enough, try this: swimming will help you live longer. Researchers at the University of South Carolina followed 40,547 men, aged 20 to 90, for 32 years and discovered that those who swam had a 50 percent lower death rate than runners, walkers, or men who got no exercise. The study also concluded that those results aren’t just limited to men either, and that women would also see the same results.
If you’re looking to get in better shape and start exercising, skip the treadmill and tennis shoes and head for the pool. Everything will feel better from your bones to your joints to your muscles. Not only that, you’ll notice more weight loss and muscle definition than you would from running. Don’t forget your goggles!