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Swimming is generally regarded as a great way to help you to improve your heart rate and blood flow and to help maintain a healthy weight. But for a lot of people that’s where they see the benefits of swimming end, without realising all the little muscle building and fat burning benefits that swimming provides that other forms of exercise do not.
Hitting the pool for a good few laps not only helps with your general physical fitness, but it provides a number of other benefits such as breath control and muscle toning. There are few workouts that you can do that offer so many peripheral benefits, allowing you to tone muscle, burn fat and wear Speedos all at once.
As water is 12 times as dense as air, swimming is a far more effective way of toning your muscles than any other form of cardiovascular exercise that you can do on land. When you swim you get the cardio part of your workout while also working on an even body tone. Working out in water provides a certain amount of water resistance, which has a similar effect as using a light weight on a resistance machine at the gym. However, submersion in water creates a more even, controlled resistance on the body so there’s no concern about having to count or equalise repetitions when it’s time for lifting. The amount of resistance involved will be relative to the force you are pushing the water with, which allows you to control how hard you’re working with ease.
There is a far higher level of moisture present in the air when you’re at a swimming pool in comparison to the dry air that you’ll experience at a gym. The moisture in the air makes it far easier to breath, perfect for those that suffer with asthma and find cardio in the gym or in the park that bit too hard on their lungs. Studies have shown that swimming can vastly improve asthma symptoms, even a whole year after your swimming routine stops. Swimming is not only beneficial to asthma sufferers however, it can also help to increase your lung volume and force you to learn better breathing techniques that can aid you when lifting weights or running.
As water has the handy habit of supporting your bodyweight, it serves as a great way for people with injuries or those suffering from obesity to get a good workout, without risk of over doing it and causing further physical issues. Swimming is also one of the few sports that doesn’t cause any stress to the skeletal system. When you workout in a pool you are far less likely to make contact with any hard surfaces that may put a strain on your body as all of your motions will be cushioned by the protective barrier of the water. Even better, if you’re swimming in a heated pool, the heat will loosen joints and muscles that will help prevent injuries during your workout.
When you’re at the gym you’ll tend to use isolation machines that work specific areas of the body, where as swimming allows you to use a lot of the bodies muscles at the same time. The strokes that utilise a wide arc such as front crawl target a lot of the arm muscles that are missed in basic exercises, while the scissoring movement made with your legs forces your body to use more of your leg muscles in a plethora of fluid motions. Swimming is also really helpful as a way to elongate and stretch out your whole body as you keep reaching further out with your strokes.
Unsurprisingly the idea of endlessly running around a track or cycling on a stationary bike doesn’t appeal to a lot of people and can actually prove to be quite stressful. Swimming actually boosts endorphins in the body that increase feelings of wellbeing. Studies have shown that swimming produces the same “relaxation responses” as yoga, and the stretching and contracting of your muscles can heighten this experience. Not only does swimming increase relaxation chemicals, it is also highly conducive to meditation.
RECOMMENDED: Adult Swimming Lessons