Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement,
Swimming swimming in a swimming pool…..when days are hot/when days are cold/ in a swimming pool……anyone else out there remember singing that tune when they were young?
Or maybe you remember the movie “Cocoon”? In the movie, a group of elderly adults discover that a nearby swimming pool has the power to give them strength, energy, and a more youthful sense of well-being. While the cause of their new lease on life turns out to be from another planet, it still remains true that anyone can enjoy the benefits of their neighborhood pool.
Swimming offers EVERYONE a wide range of health benefits! So let’s DIVE IN and learn 9 ways finding Joyinmovement in water can boost your health.
1. Swimming lets you do more with less.
Did you know that swimming offers something no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work your body without harsh impact to your skeletal system.
When our bodies are submerged in water, they become lighter. When immersed to the waist, your body bears just 50 percent of its weight; dunk yourself to the chest and that number reduces to around 25 to 35 percent; with water all the way to the neck, you only have to bear 10 percent of your own weight. The other 90 percent is handled by the pool.
This means that the pool provides an ideal place to work stiff muscles and sore joints, especially if you’re overweight or suffer from arthritis.
2. Swimming increases strength and muscle tone.
Ever seen a weak-looking competitive swimmer? Ever seen a flabby dolphin? OK, we don’t have to turn into competitive swimmers or hope to be reincarnated as dolphins to increase our strength and muscle tone! All we have to do is swim. Swimming is a great way to increase muscular strength and tone, especially compared to several other aerobic exercises.
Take running, for example. When a jogger takes a few laps around the track, they are only moving their body through air. A swimmer, on the other hand, is propelling through water, a substance about twelve times as dense as air. That means that every kick and every arm stroke becomes a resistance exercise. It’s well known that resistance exercises are the best way to build muscle tone and strength.
There’s another bonus to a water workout. Swimming has also been shown to improve bone strength, especially in post-menopausal women.
3. Swimming improves flexibility.
Swimming puts your body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible. The arms move in wide arcs, the hips are engaged as your legs kick through the water, and the head and spine twist from side to side. Plus, with every stroke, as you reach forward, you’re lengthening the body, which not only makes it more efficient in the water, it also helps give you a good stretch from head to toe.
4. Swimming is great for heart health.
Swimming is a strenuous activity that makes you more heart-healthy. In addition to toning visible muscles like pecs, triceps and quads, swimming also helps improve the most important muscle in our bodies: our hearts.
Because swimming is an aerobic exercise, it serves to strengthen the heart, making it more efficient in pumping, which leads to better blood flow throughout your body. Research also shows that aerobic exercise can offset the body’s inflammatory response, too.
If that’s not enough to get you moving in the pool, the American Heart Association reports that just 30 minutes of exercise per day, such as swimming, can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40 percent.
5. Swimming helps you maintain your ideal weight.
For some time, some people thought that because water is generally cooler than our body temperature, it would be difficult to lose weight with a water workout. Like many old ideas about exercise, this has been revised: Swimming is now recognized as one of the biggest calorie burners around, and it’s great for maintaining a healthy weight.
The exact number of calories you burn, of course, depends on your own physiology and the intensity with which you exercise, but as a general rule, for every 10 minutes of swimming the breast stroke burns 60 calories; the backstroke 80; the freestyle 100; and the butterfly stroke an impressive 150.
To boost the calorie-burning component of swimming, consider using intervals in which you work your hardest for short bursts and then recover. One way to structure this kind of workout would be to swim 50 yards (45.7 meters) then rest for 10 seconds, then 100 yards (91.4 meters) with a 10-second rest, then 150 yards (137.1 meters). Do this all the way up to 300 yards (274.3 meters) with rests in between.
6. Swimming helps maintain a healthy cholesterol balance.
Being healthy is more about having the right ratio of cholesterol in your body. Specifically, it’s beneficial to have higher levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
Swimming can get these levels in the right balance thanks to its aerobic power, which has been proven to raise HDL levels. This is great because for every 1 percent increase in HDL cholesterol, the risk of dying from heart disease drops by 3.5 percent.
7. Swimming lowers the risk of diabetes.
When it comes to lowering your risk of diabetes, there are few suggestions as powerful as aerobic exercise.
In one study, men reduced their risk of diabetes by an average of 6 percent for every 500 calories a week they burned through aerobic exercise. So for example, with just 30 minutes of breaststroke swimming three times per week, you could burn 900 calories, reducing your risk of contracting type-2 diabetes by over 10 percent.
A study that focused on women also suggested the same benefits: Vigorous exercise just once a week lowered their risk of contracting type-2 diabetes by 16 percent over inactive women.
And, if you already have type-1 diabetes, the aerobic benefits of swimming can be particularly helpful, as this type of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity.
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics should get 150 minutes per week, spread across at least three days per week, of moderate-intensity physical activity like swimming to aid glycemic control.
8. Swimming helps lower stress, increase brain function, and leaves you in good spirits!
William Wilson wrote in the 1883 book, The Swimming Instructor: “The experienced swimmer, when in the water, may be classed among the happiest of mortals in the happiest of moods, and in the most complete enjoyment of the happiest of exercises.”
OK, I’m a swimmer so I certainly agree with Mr. Wilson!
All that happiness he refers to is likely due to the release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins, one of swimming’s best side effects.
In addition to a natural high, swimming can also bring forth the relaxation response the same way yoga does for many people. This is due in large part to the constant stretching and relaxing of your muscles combined with deep rhythmic breathing. Swimming is also a meditative exercise, with the sound of your own breathing and the splash of the water acting as a mantra of sorts that helps you quiet down all other distractions.
Aside from the metaphysical benefits of swimming, research has shown that it can actually change the brain for the better through a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis, in which the brain replaces cells lost through stress. This benefit alone is worth all those happy laps!
9. Swimming may prolong life.
If the previous eight reasons weren’t enough to convince you of the health benefits of swimming, perhaps this one will: It can keep you from dying. Or at least dying prematurely.
Researchers at the University of South Carolina followed 40,547 men, aged 20 to 90, for 32 years and discovered that those who swam had a 50 percent lower death rate than runners, walkers, or men who got no exercise. The authors concluded that the same benefits would be received by women as well as men. http://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/swim-longer-life
There’s one problem, though!
I have noticed in the past few years how many people I meet who do not know how to swim. Even many people who know how to swim, swim rarely, if at all.
I also notice swimmers who could use assistance in swimming more efficiently, which would make it a whole lot more fun for them.
This is huge. If you don’t do something well, it’s likely you won’t stick with it or enjoy it very much. Every week people ask me how they can become better swimmers, and here’s what I tell them and where I send them.
I always recommend Total Immersion!
http://joyinmovement.com/healthy-living/ Scroll down to the bottom of this page and learn all about them.
I’ve been a T.I. devotee for many years now and totally endorse their programs and products. Please do yourself a big favor and check them out.
Swimming is such a wonderful activity. It’s a great way to cross-train your body from all the other sports you participate in. Moving through the water with ease, using your breath, just feels so darn great!
And for those of you who might not know this, if you learn to swim the medley (freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly) you use EVERY muscle in your body.
This month’s message is meant to :
1—-congratulate you if you are already swimming on a regular basis……..you know the secret to this most wonderful moving meditation!
2—-encourage you, if you know how to swim but the lifeguards at your local pool don’t know your name, to get back into the water and reclaim your lane!
3—-motivate you to learn how to swim. We are made of water to a large extent and getting comfortable within the water element will add years of JOY to your life—-I promise you!
Until next month, enjoy your Happy Laps!