Swimming can make over your muscles, transform you into a cardio goddess, and turn back the aging clock. Need more reason to suit up? We’ve got ’em right here. Dive in.
Benefit #1: It Counts as Both Cardio and Strength Training
In swimming, if you aren’t moving constantly, you’re sinking – that’s more than enough motivation to keep moving! Plus, water is about 800 times denser than air so your muscles are under constant resistance. Finally, you kill two birds with one stone – no more trying to decide if today is going to be a strength or cardio day.
Benefit #2: It’s Easy on the Impact
Yes, the low impact means swimming is a great workout for injured athletes, who need to take it easy on their joints. But it may also mean more results.
Bonus: Research in the International Journal of Sports Medicine shows swimming is better than straight-up rest for exercise recovery, for when you want to take it easy.
Benefit #3: It’s Great for Your Lungs
When your face is under water, oxygen is at a premium. In turn, your body adapts to use oxygen more efficiently. Plus, your body learns to take in more fresh air with every breath, and expel more carbon dioxide with every exhalation. A study in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology even found that swimmers had better tidal volume (the amount of air that moves in and out of the lungs during relaxed breathing) compared to runners. This results in lower resting heart rates, lower blood pressure, and, as you’ll see next, better running performance.
Benefit #4: It Makes You a Better Runner
By increasing your ability to take in and effectively use oxygen, swimming increases your endurance capacity like crazy. That’s great news if you’re hoping to complete your first half-marathon this year. It also means you can run faster mile after mile without getting winded. Furthermore, swimming trains your glutes and hamstrings, your core, and your shoulders—all of which are needed for improved running form and performances.
Benefit #5: Anyone Can Do It
Whether you’re recovering from an injury, pregnant, a new mom, or an Ironman competitor, swimming can give you a great workout – as long as you know how to swim. You control the pace, intensity, and what you get out of every session.
Benefit #6: It Slashes Major Stress
While exercise-induced endorphins will do wonders for your stress levels, getting in the water for your workout may have its own special brand of mood-boosting benefits. Being submerged in water dulls the amount of sensory information that bombards your body, helping to bring on feelings of calm. No wonder you love soaking in the bathtub!
Benefit #7: It Turns Back the Clock
Regular swimmers are biologically 20 years younger than their driver’s licenses say they are, according to research from Indiana University. Scientists say that, even up until your 70th birthday, swimming affects blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system health, cognitive functioning, muscle mass, and blood chemistry to be much more similar to that of your younger self. Who needs night cream?
Benefit #8: It Hits Otherwise Underworked Muscles
When you’re in the pool, your arms are all over the place, meaning you need to work your often-neglected lats, deltoids, and traps, he says. And we know you aren’t targeting those when you’re on a bike or pounding the pavement. Plus, since so much of swimming is about staying balanced and level in the water (while both your arms and legs are moving, mind you), swimming helps you develop the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and lower back that women often miss.
Benefit #9: It Makes You Smarter
Blood flow to the brain increased by up to 14 percent when men submerged themselves in water up to their hearts, according to a Journal of Physiologystudy. Researchers believe water’s pressure on the chest cavity may have something to do with it, and they are now studying whether water-based workouts improve blood flow to the brain better than do land-based ones. Stay tuned.
Benefit #10: It Opens You Up to Awesome Experiences
Want to hop off the back of a boat? Swim across the San Francisco Bay? Go snorkeling in the Bahamas? Win every game of Marco Polo? Mastering swimming will help you do all that. The fact is, swimming’s a life skill – it opens the doors to a lot of fun stuff.