The Health Benefits of Swimming: Make a Splash
It’s summer – and vacation season is officially upon us! Whether you’re headed abroad for the holidays or staying put, it can sometimes feel tough to keep motivated. No need to let your workout routine slip though. Take it to the beach or your local pool instead! Because when it’s hot outside, what’s a better way to cool off than taking a refreshing dip?
Swimming can be the perfect summer exercise for weight loss. It provides you with a low-impact, full-body workout, but also has many other health benefits.
It’s a well-known fact that it’s important to exercise regularly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two and a half hours per week of aerobic activity is enough to decrease the risk of some chronic illnesses. More good news is that a regular workout routine can help ward off mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. It’s important to make regular exercise a priority, and swimming can be a fun way to take care of your mind and body.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the many health benefits of swimming.
It’s a full-body workout
Swimming is a full-body workout as it requires nearly every muscle to be engaged. Whether you prefer the butterfly or a gentle breaststroke, you’ll still get a good workout. Every time you kick or perform a stroke, your body is actively pulling and pushing against the resistance of the water. And, because it’s low impact, swimming is an excellent option for people with injured joints and knees as it helps with recovery and injury prevention.
Swimming elevates your heart rate, builds endurance, and helps you control your blood pressure, all the while burning calories and ensuring that you stay healthy and fit. It also increases muscle strength and enables cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart and lungs while building and toning the muscles.
What are the therapeutic benefits of swimming?
Swimming for weight loss purposes is the main priority for some, but there are plenty of other benefits where that came from. Did you know that it also reduces stress and depression, while helping you sleep better at night? It’s an activity that takes your mind off the daily stress points and relaxes the body. Suffering from insomnia? Try a soothing evening swim. It can help you feel tired at night and improve your sleep hygiene.
Due to its low impact nature, swimming has therapeutic benefits that can alleviate pain and play a significant role in recovery. It’s popular amongst people concerned about the health of their bones and joints (e.g., arthritis), as it places minimal stress on the body while reducing stiffness and increasing mobility. It’s also beneficial for people living with asthma as it can increase the expansion of lung capacity and help with the control of breath.
What are the mental benefits of swimming?
From what we’ve learned so far, swimming certainly promotes physical wellbeing. However, we often forget about the mental benefits associated with this exercise. According to a study by the Journal of Happiness Studies, one hour of exercise per week can fight depression and anxiety symptoms. That’s right: one hour.
Which effects does this exercise have on our brains? Let’s dig deeper and take a look at endorphins, which are brain transmitters produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland.
What exactly are endorphins?
Any form of exercise triggers the release of neurochemicals called endorphins, which interact with the receptors in your brain. Endorphins are ‘feel-good’ hormones that are known for bringing along a sense of happiness, positivity and wellbeing. They work to minimize any experience of stress or pain. In simpler terms, they act as natural painkillers.
Researchers have found several different activities that can boost the release of endorphins, from meditation to eating chocolate or spicy food, to laughing, and, of course, exercise. If endorphins are the body’s natural stress response aiming to reduce pain, how do they impact our moods after a workout? Why do we often feel a rush of excitement and happiness afterward?
Push past your comfort zone
To trigger the release of endorphins, you have to work harder, challenging yourself to move past your comfort zone. It can get a bit tricky, though, because you wouldn’t want to push yourself too hard and make yourself feel terrible. It’s all about finding that sweet spot where you get results but also avoid injury or exhaustion.
Research suggests that endorphin release differs by exercise intensity. According to a study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, participants reported feelings of pleasure and euphoria after moderate-intensity aerobic activity, while others reported increased negative emotions and pain after engaging in a high-intensity workout. In fact, many personal trainers advise that people who regularly take HIIT classes (like what we offer on 8fit) should balance their routines out with yoga or a less intense workout.
The question is how do you push past your comfort zone without pushing your fitness off a cliff? It’s all about finding balance. The best advice for finding it? Listen carefully to your body and seek expert advice. You’ll know when it’s time to slow down or stop.
After all, swimming has many important benefits, both physical and mental. While it can keep you fit and toned, helping with weight loss, it’s important to consider the mental benefits as well. Building holistic and balanced lives is essential for our wellbeing, and a regular workout routine is a crucial part of that.
Plus, the great thing about swimming is that you can always combine it with socializing or exploring a new public swimming pool in a new area. On hot summer days, swimming is the best way to cool off and make the most of the high temperatures. So why not make the most of your time and take a dip?