It that time of the year. The temperature is higher than it’s been for a while, and you’re most likely looking for ways to beat the heat. While it may be tempting to stay cooped up in your bedroom with the air conditioner on, it isn’t very good for your health or the environment.
The good news is that there are several healthy summer activities you can opt for this summer, which aren’t just good for your health but can also help you stay cool through the scorching heat. And one of the best activities for this purpose is: swimming.
Beat the Heat With Swimming
Swimming is fun. For most people, some of the most foundational memories of their childhood are built around learning to swim. It doesn’t matter whether you go to the nearby pool or the ocean to take a swim, it is one of the easiest ways to cool down in the summer.
Benefits of Swimming
The great thing about swimming is that its advantages are almost endless. Yes, it is a great way to cool down and relax; but the list certainly doesn’t end there. If you make swimming a habit, you will experience the following benefits.
1. Works Your Entire Body
Swimming is one of those few activities that truly works your whole body. From you head to toe, every part of your body is active as you take a swim from one side to the other. This leads to several benefits, including:
- Increased heart rate without stressing your stressing your body.
- Tones muscles
- Increase endurance
- Increased strength.
To reap these benefits, it is a good idea to add various strokes to your swimming, such as breaststroke, sidestroke, backstroke, freestyle, and butterfly. These help work different areas of your body even more efficiently. Add to it the gentle resistance of water, and it becomes one of the best full body workouts.
2. Equally Beneficial at Working Your Insides
In addition to being a full body workout, swimming helps all your muscles get a good workout. This includes the cardiovascular system as well. Regular swimming can be very beneficial for your heart and lungs.
In fact, various researchers have found that it can even reduce your risk of death. As compared to inactive people, swimmers are at about half the risk of death from age-related illnesses. Other studies have also shown that swimming can strengthen your heart and lungs, control blood sugar, and lower blood pressure.
3. Helps You Stay Fit
Let’s get it clear: losing weight and staying fit doesn’t let just you rock that summer dress or tuxedo. It also ensures that you remain healthy in the long run and reduces your risk of various diseases related to obesity. However, trying to keep those pounds off can sometimes be difficult. And this can be an even affect your confidence while you’re trying to get into your bathing suit.
The good news is that swimming is a great way to burn and keep those stubborn calories off. As we’ve already discussed, swimming is a full body workout. A 160-pound person swimming for an hour at a moderate pace can easily burn over 400 calories. If the same person swims at a more vigorous pace, they can burn up to 715 calories. Similarly, a 200-pound person doing the same can burn between 500 to 900 calories.
This is higher than some common activities. The same 160-pound person would burn around 300 calories walking at 3.5 mile per hour, 350 calories while working out on an elliptical trainer, and 183 calories doing yoga for the same amount of time.
In addition, swimming is a low impact activity. This means it doesn’t put your muscles at risk of injury like most other workouts. So if you’re trying to lose weight or get into shape this summer, regular swimming should certainly be on your to-do list.
4. Builds Bone Mass
For a long time, researchers would have scoffed at the idea swimming could have any effect on bone mass. This was due the widespread belief that only weight-bearing exercises can achieve this benefits. However, this perception has changed drastically in the recent years.
According to research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, swimming does indeed have an effect on the bone mass. Though the current research is limited, the results are quite promising.
The study put subjects into three groups: swimming, running, and a control group with no exercise stimulation. While the running group showed the highest increase in Bone Mineral Density (BMD), the swimming group also showed significant benefit of the control group in both femoral bone weight and BMD.
More study is still required to study the extent to which swimming can affect bone mass. But it is certainly more beneficial than not doing anything.
5. Improves Sleep Quality
One unexpected benefit you may gain out of swimming is that you will likely be able to sleep better at night. While these two things may seem unconnected, your physical activity certainly has a huge impact on your quality of sleep.
In one study, older adults who suffered from insomnia reported a boost in the quality of sleep as well as overall lifestyle after engaging in regular aerobic exercise. Since nearly 50% of older adults suffer from insomnia, this can be a great news for those people.
The study focused on a wide range of aerobic activities including swimming, elliptical, bicycle, stairmaster, and other exercises. However, swimming remains the most accessibly of these exercises and if you’ve learned swimming, you won’t need any special training to start reaping these benefits. This is especially true for older adults who don’t enjoy the idea of running or other vigorous exercise.
So if you’re having trouble falling asleep, you may want to start hitting the pool more often.
6. Boosts Your Moods and Helps You Relax
Does this one really need explanation? Have you ever come out of a good swimming session not feeling relaxed and energized? Swimming can have a positive impact on the mind. It can instantly make you feel better melt away you stress – at least temporarily.
However, this is backed up by science as well. A research study evaluated a small group of people with dementia and saw a significant improvement in mood after participating in a 12-week aquatic program. But these benefits aren’t limited to people who suffer from dementia.
Regular exercise has been shown to boost the mood in other people as well. So if you’re feeling blue and need a healthy pick-me-up, hitting a pool may be a great idea.
7. Help Manage Stress
As discussed earlier, swimming can have a temporary effect on your stress levels. However, with regular practice, you can significantly increase this benefit of swimming.
A group of swimmers was surveyed by some researchers immediately before and after swimming at a YMCA in New Taipei City. Out of the 101 people who were surveyed, 44 reported being mildly depressed and feeling stress related to fast-paced life prior to the swim. After swimming, the number of people who reported feeling stressed saw a massive drop to only 8 people.
While the study in this area is very limited, it has been concluded by various researchers that swimming is indeed a powerful way to relieve stress instantly.
8. Safe for People with Asthma
People with asthma have a tough time finding the right physical activity, as most activities can leave them out of breath and literally put their life at risk. The same isn’t the case with swimming.
In fact, the humid environment of indoor pools is very beneficial for people with asthma. In addition to that, the controlled breathing during swimming may also be beneficial in keeping your asthma under control. It can help you expand your lung capacity and gain a better control over your breathing.
Plus, it can potentially improve your condition as well. In a recent study, a group of children with asthma completed a six-week swimming program. At the end of this period, almost all kids saw significant improvements in severity, mouth-breathing, snoring, as well as hospitalization and ER visits. These symptoms continued to improve even after a year.
Even if you don’t have asthma, swimming can help increase overall lung-volume and improve breathing techniques. Both of these can reduce your risk of developing asthma later in life.
9. It Can Potentially Make You Smarter
Yes, swimming can be very beneficial for your mental health. But did you know that it can potentially make you smarter in the long run?
A research study was conducted in Australia, which focused on kids who took swimming lessons and a control group of non-swimmers. According to the results, the kids who regularly participated in swimming were able to master language development, fine motor skills, physical development, and confidence quicker that the control group.
So while swimming may not make you smarter, it certainly improves your ability to process information and enables you to become smarter.
10. Safe For Pregnant Women
It can be very beneficial for pregnant women and their babies to stay active during the pregnancy. Not only can this lead to healthy deliveries, but can also improve the health of the baby. However, finding the right activity during this time can be quiet difficult, as you do not want to risk your baby’s life and most physical activities can be quite harmful.
This is why you should actively participate in swimming. Not only is it safe during this crucial period, but can also provide some serious benefits. In one animal study, the pregnant rat’s swimming was shown to alter the brain development in her offspring in a positive manner. It can potentially protect the babies against a type of neurological issue called hypoxia-ischemia.
In addition to that, swimming is one of the very few activities that can be performed in all three trimesters. In fact, one study showed that pregnant woman who swam during their early to mid-pregnancy had a lower risk of preterm labor and congenital defects.
However, it is always important to consult your doctor before swimming or participating in any type of activity. While swimming is considered widely safe for most pregnant women, it is also true that each pregnancy is different. Certain complications may put you at risks you may not be aware of. So always consult your doctor about everything during pregnancy.
Ultimately, swimming is a fun summertime activity. It provides you with an opportunity to get out, take in some fresh air, and make good use of your time. If you choose to go with your friends or family, it also provides the opportunity for an enjoyable bonding time.
However, to reap these benefits, you have to make swimming a habit. While swimming once or twice through the summers would still be fun, it won’t provide you with any substantial benefits. So try to hit the pool at least 2 to 3 times a week, and see how quickly your lifestyle starts improving.