With the Olympics upon us, I am very excited to watch as some of the world’s premier athletes compete to win for their country. I am always in awe when watching the swimmers and how their lean and muscular bodies seem to glide through the water so effortlessly. You can tell that they are in great shape both on the outside and inside. For many years, I have been advising patients to try swimming or to perform some water aerobics as a form of exercise. I have always heard how good it is for individuals who may not tolerate pounding on the pavement due to joint pain or arthritis.
Recently, I have learned of the benefits of swimming first hand. After dealing with some hip and lower back pain every time I went running, I decided to give running a break and take up swimming. After only 3 months of swimming, my body feels stronger and with less aches and pains. Here are some of the many benefits of swimming that all individuals can profit from:
Less harsh impact. Swimming allows us to perform an aerobic exercise without the harsh impact on our bodies. When immersed in waist-level water, our bodies become 50% lighter and 25% lighter in chest-height water. For someone who may be overweight or have arthritic joints, being in the pool allows them to move more freely with less compression through the joints.
Swimming is a great resistance exercise. Water is 12 times as dense as air so every move your arms and legs make is against resistance. Instead of using free weights or machines where only one muscle group is worked at a time, swimming works all of your muscles groups at the same time. It is a great time saver!
Decrease arthritis pain. According to the Center of Disease Control, it been proven that water-based exercise improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.
Decrease risk of heart disease and diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, just 30 minutes of exercise per day, such as swimming, can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40 percent and greatly reduce our chances of acquiring type 2 diabetes.
Decrease risk of asthma. Swimming greatly works our lungs and can increase our lung capacity over time, which can decrease the risk for developing asthma.
Improved mood and overall well-being. I know from first-hand experience how swimming can have a similar effect as meditating. Swimming is very rhythmic and it forces you to focus on your breathing and body movement. The only noise you hear when swimming in your own breath and the sound of your body moving through the water, which is extremely relaxing and Zen-like. I am always in a better mood after being in the pool!
There are so many great reasons to break out your swimsuit and jump in the pool. It can benefit individuals of all ages and comes with so many health benefits. Be inspired by our athletes in the next few weeks and have fun splashing around!
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The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.