Swimming is one of the best low-impact sports for building strength and cardiovascular health.

Get in the Swim! 6 Health Benefits of Swimming

Swimming pools are reopening, temperatures are warming, and it’s a good time to remember that a dip in the pool isn’t just about fun, it’s one of the best ways you can find to get fit, lose weight, and de-stress. Fitness experts say swimming can be one of the most efficient ways to tone muscles and build strength. A few reasons:

  • Buoyancy: With water holding you up, you’re bearing only about 10 percent of your body weight. That allows you work different muscle groups and to do exercises that would be difficult on land.
  • Resistance:  Water offers 44 times the resistance of air, and it’s continual resistance – you’re pushing against the water in all directions.
  • Impact: Water-based exercise is low impact because the resistance of the water does not allow for sudden body movements. With the water holding you up, you can jump and bounce without jarring.
  • Heat Tolerance: You’re unlikely to overheat when swimming, even in hot weather, as water disperses body heat and cools your core temperature.

Here are 6 important benefits you can expect from incorporating swimming into your fitness routine.

1. Swimming helps you lose weight

This calorie counter can tell you how many calories you burn doing your favorite stroke. For example, 30 minutes of breast stroke burns around 367 calories. And guess what? That beats walking, cycling and even running.

2. Swimming is good for your heart

Research consistently shows that people who swim have lower cholesterol and blood pressure and stronger measures of cardiovascular function, because swimming works the heart and lungs and trains the body to use oxygen more efficiently. In one study, researchers compared runners, walkers, swimmers and couch potatoes, measuring blood pressure, cholesterol levels, maximum energy output, and other measures of cardiovascular health. They found that among the nearly 46,000 people included in the study, the swimmers and runners had the best numbers, followed fairly closely by walkers. As you might expect, non-exercisers had the highest weights and resting heart rates and the worst cholesterol levels and overall fitness.

3. Swimming won’t cause injuries

According to the Arthritis Foundation, lap swimming is easy on the joints and builds cardiovascular ability, lung power, and endurance without putting you at risk for sore joints. If you’re new to the water, start slowly or join a class with a certified instructor to learn proper form.

4. Swimming boosts your mood

Studies show swimming helps ease tension, depression, anger and anxiety, thanks to the mood-lifting hormone serotonin. And other studies show swimming clears the mind allowing swimmers to experience increased focus and concentration.

5. Swimming helps you sleep

Research by the National Sleep Foundation has shown that people who undertake vigorous exercise like swimming are nearly twice as likely to experience a good night’s rest. Survey respondents also report fewer sleep problems such as insomnia and interrupted sleep after exercise.

6. Swimming never gets boring

If swimming laps isn’t your thing, consider water aerobics, water yoga or another water-based exercise. There’s a seemingly endless variety of classes, including water walking, dance, and rehabilitative therapies. And if you live near the coast, don’t forget open water swimming, an increasingly popular pastime.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.