When I was young(er), I used to be a competitve swimmer.
I’m the one in the flip flops
Competitive swimming, like any sport, requires a lot of commitment. 5:30 am practices, weekend meets, equipment investments, etc. Even so, my competitve swimming career, although short, was one of the best experiences of my life. You meet a lot of great friends and learn to be disciplined in balancing sport, life, and scholastics.
During swimming I was also in the best shape, physically, than I’d ever been in. This isn’t surprising since the physical health benefits of swimming are numerous.
1. Builds cardiovascular fitness.
Like running and biking, swimming is a great way to build endurance and cardio-respiratory fitness.
2. Increased lean muscle mass.
Water is twelve times more dense than air, meaning that swimming is an excellent resistance exercise very effective for building muscle tone and strength.
3. Easy on the joints.
Swimming is a very low impact exercise. In a pool your body becomes practically weightless, and there is minimal tension on the joints. For this reason, people with arthritis, musculoskeletal, or weight limitations have been long known to benefit from hydrotherapy and other forms of swimming.
4. You can do it if you are injured.
Swimming has frequently been used in physiotherapy because it is a gentle, yet very effective, form of exercise.
5. Burns more calories than almost any sport.
Depending on how hard and fast you swim, an hour in the pool can burn anywhere from 500-650 calories!
6. Improves bone strength.
Resistance exercises, particularly weight training,walking and swimming have been proven to improve bone strength, especially in post-menopausal women.
7. Swimming is a total body exercise.
Unlike running or cycling, swimming engages and tones all the major muscles in your body including your shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, hips, and glutes. It’s an all-in-one kind of exercise!
8. Increases circulation and helps with range of motion
With less impact on your joints, swimming enables greater range of motion and circulation that transfers to long after you’ve dried off.
9. Swimming is inexpensive and needs minimal equipment.
I’ve never paid more than $5 for a drop-in swim session and although I still use my fins, paddles, and board during my lap swim, many pools today provide all the equipment you need to complement your swimming routine. And even if you use no equipment at all, you’ll still get an excellent workout in.
10. Swimming complements any training program.
Since incorporating 1-2 one hour swimming sessions during the week, I’ve noticed greater PRs in weight lifting during CrossFit as well as being able to perform movements more fluidly. I swim on my “active rest” days. Unlike most forms of exercise, no matter how often or how hard you swim, your muscles won’t be sore afterwards. If they are already sore, then swimming is a good exercise to relieve muscle soreness. Whatever your sport, swimming is sure to make you stronger and more efficient!