29 Aug 2018

What do you actually gain from swimming regularly?

Everyone has a different reason to participate in physical activity whether it is for fitness, to socialise or for the competitions. Swimming can be done by anyone, no matter their ability or age. It is also one of the few lifelong sports, this is due to the low impact nature of the sport.

Injury rates are very low in swimming compared to many other sports, someone with a sprain or a long term condition may still be able to participate without worsening their injury. Swimming is also beneficial for asthmatics or those with lung conditions as the poolside environment is humid, hot and has a low pollen count. It is also a good preventative measure as swimming reduces chances of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and strokes by up to 41%.

When I first thought of the topic for this blog I thought I would just cover the physical benefits of the sport, however I found during my research many other benefits as well. One such benefit is that water is only slightly less dense than our bodies, supporting us by 90% and giving us that weightlessness feeling that (most) swimmers love. This not only makes swimming fun but it also give postural support, allowing those with disabilities a lot more freedom and movement than they might have on land. Those with arthritis find it slightly decreases pressure on the joints, giving them more movement and reduced pain.

There are a few added benefits for competitive swimmers. The increased viscosity of water means there is an increase in resistance to movement, for competitive swimmers this effects the technique of the stroke. In front-crawl this is why we pull the arm under the water to gain move and recover over the water to negate the resistance that would slow us down. All this resistance makes swimming more tiring, however it greatly increases the benefits you can get out of swimming. Swimming is one of the best sports for overall fitness and muscle toning. Running uses up to 5 main muscle groups this can be compared to swimming which can use up to 24 different muscle groups giving us an overall full body workout.

As well as increasing strength, swimming will greatly increase lung capacity and cardiovascular endurance. From non-swimmers learning to blow bubbles or competitive swimmers doing advanced techniques, breathing is one of the most difficult aspects of swimming to get right and it allows swimmers to build a greater lung capacity compared to people who do other sports. During your swim there will be an increase in heart rate and an average of 225% increased blood flow, keeping your heart active and decreasing your odds of heart disease.

Not only is swimming a vital life skill but it also helps children to develop key skills such as coordination, confidence, and socialising with others. Coordination is enhanced as all strokes require body parts to be used in unison, and just like patting your head and rubbing your belly, they also are doing different actions. Confidence comes through trying new things, jumping in, and having fun in the water. This is something we love to see at SafelySwim.

From personal experience there is no other feeling that competes with diving into an empty pool and swimming a few lengths, which I’m sure many others will agree with. It boosts endorphins and gives a great buzz which can lighten moods and reduce anxiety.

If you want some extra information about the benefits of swimming here’s a link to Swim England’s report on ‘Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Swimming’

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