The Joys and Benefits of Swimming

Anyone who is a swimmer knows how rewarding it is, although sometimes it can cause pain (especially the demands of competitive swimming). However, pain is just temporary; it comes and goes in waves, but the real outcome is important and extremely beneficial. As the author Stephen Richards observed, “the pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow.”

Benefits to physical health

Swimming is a sport, unlike others, which exercises all muscles in order to propel yourself through the water. Compared to others such as football and rugby, swimming is a very safe form of exercise which also prevents injury. A study from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation where the data indicates that swimming is beneficial for knee health and preventing knee pain (especially when performed under 35 years of age).

Other than preventing injuries, swimming has several physical health benefits.  According to the NHS, regular 30 to 40 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous swimming training can reduce risks of stroke, heart disease and type two diabetes. Overall, this sport is also known to help lose weight, improve general mobility, and increase strength and flexibility. A study from Speedo suggested that 30 minutes of moderate swimming burns up to 300 calories. This is nearly double the number of calories burnt from 30 minutes of jogging.

Compared to other cardio based sports such as running and cycling, swimming demands impressive cardiovascular endurance. It also does not create joint stress from high impact movements as, it exercises the whole body rather than just the lower body. Indeed swimming seems to be good for you in almost every way. A report by SwimEngland suggested that swimmers have a 28% lower risk of early death compared to non-swimmers.

Benefits to mental health

Other than to keep physically fit and healthy, swimming also has many benefits to peoples mental health. For example, a study from SwimEngland suggests that swimming prevents frequent visits to mental healthcare professionals. Many claim that being in water can prevent stress, discomfort and depression and improve sleep and self-esteem. Exercise in general, gives the mind a break from reality and allows time to relax; for some it gives an opportunity to socialize with others. Socializing is a significant factor for improving mental health and boosting brain health. Therefore, it is important that everyone finds time to go out more and meet new people.

As well as improving mental health, swimming enhances brain health. Just being in water increases blood flow to the brain which helps prevent any harmful toxins from entering. Like any other form of exercise, swimming releases ‘feel-good’ hormones, also known as endorphins. These increase happiness and positivity which are vital factors for creating a sense of wellbeing.

Benefits to academic performance 

A report by Professor Ian Cumming, (Chief Executive of Health Education England and Chairman of SwimEngland), shows that regular swimming increases connections between brain cells. This leads to better results in academic performance: improved accuracy and attention span on specific tasks. Not only does this exercise boost performance it also helps guide a healthy development for young children. Many scientists and health care professionals encourage parents to sign their children up to swimming lessons from an early age. This is due to multiple studies showing that early swimmers have better ability to count, solve maths problems and have more advanced language skills.

As a long term effect swimming can enhance skills such as dedication, perseverance, responsibility and strength: the dedication and responsibility to take yourself swimming, the perseverance and strength to do what’s best for your health and not give up when when it gets tough. One thing about swimming is that it is just like learning how to walk. No one can do it straight away, it takes time. The more you practice, the better you get. It’s all about patience and perseverance.

Overall, swimming is a sport that is accessible for all: recommended for all age groups and abilities. It is especially rewarding for the elderly as exercise in water reduces strain on your joints. Furthermore, it is particularly useful in therapy. One study shows that swimming is great for people with cerebral palsy. As well as this, it acts as therapy for people with pulmonary disease, cancer and obesity. Swimming is one of the many sports that is taught for lifesaving purposes, therefore it is an important life skill to have. Finally, with low costs to participate and a forever increasing number of leisure center’s in the country, there are more opportunities for people to start swimming.

If you would like help starting your swimming journey please visit:

Start your love swimming journey today | Find your local pool

 

 

Aimee Surman, King Alfred’s Year 10 Work Experience Student

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