5 Surprising and Solid Reasons to Swim
1. It’s summer. There’s no better time and reason to swim than amidst sunshine on a hot summer's day. Swimming is an activity you can add to your regular sun seeking routine to boost your Vitamin D levels and to shake up your summertime activities.
Not only does it feel great, is good for you (keep on reading to discover its health boosting benefits), but it’s a super fun way to socialize too! I don’t know about you, but being outdoors with good company and staying active are sure-fire ways to keep me fit and my mood way up!
2. Cardiovascular health benefits – studies show that swimming improves blood flow, reduces arterial stiffness, reduces blood pressure and lowers inflammatory proteins (such as interleukin 6 - which is pro-inflammatory and found in chronic conditions such as arthritis). All this can contribute to our heart and blood vessel health, which reduces your risk and prevents cardiovascular disease.
3. Protects your joints – Often with land based exercises, we load a lot of weight onto our ankles, knees, and hips. When we swim however, our joints don't get beat up with repetitive and hard impact. Instead, the weight and pressure are evenly distributed throughout your entire body. Swimming is especially effective for those who have arthritis, since exercise in warm water has been shown to reduce pain, stiffness and increase mobility.
4. Better for your back – Studies have found that aquatic exercises can help relieve back pain! Another bonus for your back is that swimming actually counteracts the oh so common hunchback look we rock throughout our day. Certain land based exercises such as cycling adds to the forward hunch, but when you swim, you tend to arch slightly backwards. This can help protect us from injuries due to poor posture.
5. Belly breathing – When we swim, our inhale becomes stronger and more deep. Contrast this with how we breathe during land exercises which are typically shallow inhales and strong exhales. This type of breathing aligns well with the meditative/ yogic style of breathing that trains us to use our lungs most effectively - strengthening our cardiopulmonary function. So despite being submerged in water, swimming can help us bring more oxygen into our body!
Swimming can be a great addition to all the ways your move. This is not to say that land-based exercises are harmful, they certainly have their benefits. But consider alternating your activities with a good swim. This allows you to work different muscle groups while giving your joints some gentle relief. It may also help you get a better night's rest!
If you're starting out and have any health concerns, it's a good idea to consult with your naturopath or other health care provider to see how you can best integrate swimming into your lifestyle.
If you're learning to swim, there are many great classes you can register at your local gym or community centre. There are also online resources to help get you started like LIVESTRONG's how-to swimming series.
Recipe for swimming:
-Just add water.
Alkatam, M. et al. (2016). Effects of swimming and cycling exercise intervention on vascular function in patients with osteoarthritis. The American Journal of Cardiology. Retrieved from http://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(15)02095-0/abstract
Chase, N.L., et al. (2008). Swimming and all cause mortality risk compared with running, walking, and sedentary habits in men. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol2/iss3/3/
Gabay, C. (2006). Interleukin-6 and chronic inflammation. Arthritis Research & Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3226076/
Harinath, K. et al. (2004). Effects of hatha yoga and omkar meditation on cardiorespiratory performance, psychologic profile, and melatonin secretion. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine. Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/107555304323062257
Waller, B., Lambeck J., Daly, D. (2009). Therapeutic aquatic exercise in the treatment of low back pain: a systematic review. Clinical Rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269215508097856