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Have you ever considered taking up swimming as a hobby or regular exercise? If you want to know the main benefits to your body and health, we've got everything you need to know here. 
When was the last time you went for a swim? 
 
Some people may not have taken a proper dip in the local pool since they were a kid. Or maybe swimming for you is associated with sunshine, loungers and the beach. 
 
But have you considered that swimming is a great way to exercise and could be your new favourite hobby? 
 
Not only that but did you know there are a range of other health benefits too? 
 
In this post we look at the main benefits of swimming and why you might want to consider taking it up as a regular thing. 
 
We’ll look at how swimming exercises different parts of the body and the effects it can have on your overall health. 

The exercise benefits of swimming 

So how good exactly is swimming for the body? 
 
1. Give your body a full workout 
 
Few other sports exercise as many parts of the body at the same time, as swimming. 
 
Where cycling might disproportionately build muscle in the legs and tennis mainly exercise the upper body and arms, swimming will exercise various muscle groups. 
 
If you’re wanting to build definition and strength in the whole body this is great news. 
 
Different swimming strokes will make use of the legs and arms but also your back muscles and core muscles (stomach) as you move your arms and legs against the resistance of the water. 
 
2. Swimming is a great aerobic exercise 
 
Like other sports swimming gets your insides going. 
 
In order to move the muscles required for swimming, your cardiovascular system will be working hard, meaning your heart and lungs get a good workout too. 
 
Aerobic exercise has a number of widely regarded short term and long-term benefits and will reduce the risk of many illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes in later life. 
Woman swimming in a pool
3. Burn through calories 
 
When measuring the success of a workout many people are mainly focused on how many calories have been burned. 
 
Well, swimming definitely gets through calories and research suggests it does it more than other activities such as running. 
 
This of course partly depends on what stroke you use and how long your session is but doing a combination of backstroke and front crawl for 20-30 minutes will burn more calories than running for the equivalent length of time. 
 
4. Great alternative for people who struggle with impact 
 
Swimming may also be preferable to other activities for other reasons. 
 
If someone has conditions such as arthritis or is recovering from other injuries or illnesses, many popular exercises are not possible because they involve high impact with joints and bones. 
 
This in turn can mean these people miss out on a healthier lifestyle. Fortunately, swimming presents an alternative that isn’t so hard on the joints. 
 
The buoyancy and minimal resistance required for a slower paced swimming session can also be great for someone suffering with MS or another fatigue-based illness. 
 
5. Improve flexibility 
 
If your goal is to loosen up those limbs and get a bit more flexible, then swimming may be the sport for you. 
 
With all that reaching, moving and twisting, you are naturally going to expand the capabilities of your muscles and joints. Of course, it’s important that you stretch well before the exercise but after swimming frequently you are likely to come away more flexible. 
 
It’s particularly good for moving joints you wouldn’t normally move as much, such as your ankles which you use like fins, pushing against the water. 
Aqua aerobics class

Other health benefits of swimming 

It may be that the appeal of swimming is less about the exercise itself and more about the other benefits it provides, particularly for people with specific conditions. 
 
There are other benefits to swimming, related to mental health, long term health and day to day wellness that you may not know about. 
 
Whilst some of these benefits are probably applicable to a wide range of exercises there are some where swimming stands above the rest. 
 
1. Alleviate stress and depression 
 
It’s common knowledge that many forms of exercise alleviate stress, depression and other mental health problems. 
 
Swimming is no different and also allows you to exercise without the pressure and competitiveness of other sports making it even more appealing for some. 
 
A combination of the endorphin kick you get from doing the exercise and the deep rhythmic breathing required to swim effectively means that swimmers will often feel more relaxed and positive afterwards. The feeling of having achieved something is also a big plus. 
 
For more on mental health, have a read of our recent blog or check out our relevant courses.  
 
2. Improve sleep 
 
If you’re looking for ways to improve your sleep quality or simply get more sleep, then picking up swimming may be the solution. Of course, any exercise that gives your whole body a workout is going to use up energy in your body and tire you out, ready for sleep. 
 
However, studies have shown specifically that people with insomnia saw a boost in their quality of sleep after swimming regularly. Other adults saw their sleep improve too. 
 
This is particularly great news for older adults who might struggle to do other forms of exercise or be put off by them. 
Man wiping face after swim
3. Sometimes beneficial for those with Asthma 
 
People who suffer from Asthma often find it hard to exercise as running and other sports are not doable if you struggle with breathing. 
 
Complications are usually caused by dry air or pollen that cause the asthma to flare up when out of breath from exercise. In a swimming pool however you are breathing hot, humid air which is a lot better for lungs, therefore making the exercise easier to do. 
 
This may not work for everyone however and it’s important to note that chlorine and other chemicals used to treat many public swimming pools can be an irritant and may actually do more harm than good if you have Asthma. 
 
4. Helps with recovery from illness or disability 
 
We mentioned above that swimming has the potential to be a more accessible form of exercise for people with certain disabilities. 
 
But it may go even further than that and actually help to alleviate or improve certain conditions. If you’re recovering from an injury, swimming may be a great way to exercise and speed up the healing process without causing any unnecessary stress or damage to the healing part of the body. 
 
Studies have also suggested that those with MS and other chronic illnesses actually saw improvements in their condition as a result of swimming regularly. 
 
5. Get kids exercising 
 
When you’re raising kids, finding ways to get them to exercise regularly can be difficult. All children are different and not all will want to join the local football team. 
 
Swimming however presents a different alternative. It can be great fun and being in the water can also expand the imagination. 
 
The great thing about swimming is doesn’t all have to be structured lessons. There are many places which offer lessons, including the Sportsability swim school, that provide a safe environment for kids to play freely in the water. This allows them to exercise naturally and also helps develop their friendship groups. 
 
Taking kids to swimming lessons doesn’t have to be a chore either. If you have a good course available with good instructors, they can take care of everything. 
Kids swimming

Get all of this and more at our swim school 

Fortunately, you don’t have to look far for somewhere that offers quality swimming lessons and water-based activities. 
 
If you are looking for lessons specifically, whether that’s one-to-one lessons or for children, in order to improve your swimming and gain some of the great benefits we’ve mentioned above, then we can help. 
 
The Sportsability Swim School operates from a number of pools in the area and runs a variety of classes, particularly focusing on children and people with special education needs. 
 
Get in touch today. 
 
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