The benefits of swimming

If you don’t love working up a sweat but do love the benefits of a cardio workout, swimming may be your ideal match. There are plenty of reasons to swim. Here's a list that should get you motivated.

Low impact

There's no ground impact when you swim, and so you protect the joints from stress and strain. Water aerobics classes are desirable for this reason, because even if you do jump and hit the bottom of the pool, you do so with less force because you're buoyant in the water. Not only that, if you wear or hold a flotation device during a water aerobics class, the impact is even less.

Can be continued for a lifetime

Because there's no impact with swimming, it can be continued for a lifetime.

Builds cardio respiratory fitness

Swimming improves endurance. In one study of sedentary middle-aged men and women who did swim training for 12 weeks, maximal oxygen consumption improved 10% and stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped with each beat which indicates heart strength) improved as much as 18%.

Builds muscle mass

In a study of men who completed an eight-week swimming program, there was a 23.8% increase in the triceps muscle (the back of the arm). If you have been doing no resistance exercise at all and you start to swim, you will certainly get more toned and you may even gain mass like the men in this study. But even without the gain in mass, it is well worth the strength and tone that you will almost certainly gain.

An alternative when injured

When athletes are injured, particularly in the lower extremities, they are frequently told to swim to maintain their fitness level. Swimming helps them to stay in shape, and it's even part of the rehabilitation. That's because the resistance of the water makes the muscles work hard without the strain or impact that is experienced on land.

It's a break from the summer heat

There's nothing like a good swim during the hot days of summer, whether it's at the beach or in the pool. It's relaxing, the movements are smooth and rhythmic, and it's a great workout.

It's a family affair

Swimming and other water activities are something the entire family can share. With rising levels of obesity in children as well as adults, family physical activities and good role-modelling may be one way to stem the epidemic of inactivity and obesity facing our nation.

Burns kilojoules

Swimming burns lots of energy, anywhere from 2000 – 2400 kilojoules per hour depending on how efficiently you swim (you burn more flopping around than swimming cleanly!) and how buoyant you are (the more body fat you have, the more you float and the fewer kilojoules it takes to swim). Research on swimming and kilojoules expenditure showed that swimming, regardless of the stroke, burned about 89% of the kilojoules burned during running and 97% of the kilojoules burned during cycling for the same time period.

(If you are going to swim in an ocean or lake, make sure you know how to stay safe in open water with currents.)

Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/swimming

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