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

Get in the Swim! Enjoy the Health Benefits of Swimming

Summertime is swimming time! But 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 some of the benefits you can expect from incorporating swimming into your fitness routine.

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.

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. One study followed 40,000 people over a 13 year period and found that only 2 percent of swimmers died, as compared with 8 percent of runners and 9 percent of walkers.

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.

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.

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.