Swimming is considered by many to be the ‘perfect sport’. Whether you choose a gentle breaststroke or a vigorous front crawl, it’s a total body workout without putting pressure on joints and it improves posture, tones the core and speeds up your metabolism. Plus, exercising in water makes your body work that much harder and 30 minutes in the pool is the equivalent of 45 minutes in the gym.
Here are 10 good reasons to take to the water.
• Because water is about 800 times denser than air, you can work harder, and burn more calories, in a pool than out of it, and because different swimming strokes challenge different muscles you can choose where you tone up.
• If you swim for at least 20 minutes straight, keeping up a constant rhythm and speed, you will quickly improve general fitness, stimulate your metabolism and burn fat.
• The fact that it’s an aerobic exercise also means it improves cardiopulmonary capacity, while the extra effort needed to overcome water resistance tones muscles quickly.
• It’s a great way to burn calories: an hour of (moderate) swimming burns 500 calories!
• Our body’s natural position is upright, but when we swim, we turn it horizontal; this helps move respiratory secretions, and improves our breathing, and because it requires more breath control compared to running, the increased demand for oxygen means your muscles must work harder so you can get fitter faster.
• Over two thirds of the body is worked when we swim, including both the lower and upper body, core and arms and legs. Each stroke uses different muscle groups so mix it up as you go for an all-over workout.
• Swimming strengthens joints and improves posture by improving the position of the spinal column. This makes it an excellent exercise for people with back problems. Try to keep your body aligned. If your head is up, your legs are down and you will bob along rather than glide through the water.
• Just 30 minutes of swimming, three times a week, is seen as one of the best ways to improve wellness, including helping to retain a positive mental attitude as swimming is proven to lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
• Swimming is great but you can mix it up with other water-based exercise. Walking or running in water is great for fitness levels and won’t exacerbate any issues with joints. Get friends and family involved with pool ball games or races to keep everyone entertained and exercising without even realising.
• Last, but not least: anyone can do it. You don’t have to be Rebecca Adlington to benefit from a swimming session – so come on in: the water’s lovely!
Not a confident swimmer? Then there’s still every reason to leave your lounger for a swimming session. Start with a few gentle lengths to gain confidence and stick to the strokes you know you can do. If you don’t like putting your head under water invest in a good pair of goggles (before you go) – they will make a difference. Try and set yourself mini goals. Swim a little longer each day. Mix it up with a few faster lengths followed by a few more leisurely ones but try and keep swimming for the full 20 minutes.