As pools reopen we look at five health benefits of swimming – for body and mind
1. It’s low-impact on your joints:
Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, and swimming is a great all-rounder with multiple health benefits – no matter your age, physical ability or fitness level.
“It’s particularly helpful if you experience joint pain in your knees,” says LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Anshu Kaura (lloydspharmacy.com). “The water supports your body, meaning there is less impact on the skeletal system, including joints.”
2. It’s a whole-body workout
There’s a reason many fit and healthy people get out of breath after just a couple of laps in the pool. “It’s basically an all-round form of exercise, which keeps your heart rate up, improves cardiovascular fitness, as well as building endurance and muscle strength,” says Scott McDougall, of The Independent Pharmacy (theindependentpharmacy.co.uk).
Swimming utilises nearly all muscles in the body, including often under-worked areas of your arms. Not only does it engage your legs, which need to kick to propel you forward, it also recruits your core strength, and the lats, deltoids and traps.
3. There are mental benefits too:
We all know exercise-induced endorphins can help blitz away stress, but simply being in the water can have its own restorative benefits. When asked about the impact of swimming on their day-to-day life, 43 per cent of regular swimmers in said in a recent YouGov survey that it makes them feel happier.
It’s thought that being in water can help ease sensory overload on our nervous system, helping to promote feelings of calm and relaxation.
4. It supports weight management
“Swimming can help you to maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight as part of a wider plan,” says McDougall. “In fact, you can expect to burn around 200-400 calories per half-hour of swimming, depending on your speed, stroke and weight.”
If you’re new to swimming, it’s a good idea to start off small and build up your swimming levels at a pace that works for you.
5. It’s good for all ages
Unlike many trendy HIIT workouts popular in gyms right now, swimming feels more inclusive to all ages and fitness levels, and you don’t have to be an amateur athlete to enjoy it.
“Studies have found it can help you lead a healthier, longer life and reduce your risk of developing many major health conditions, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes,” says McDougall.