Written by: Shannon Polk, Kudos Team Contributor
What’s so great about swimming? For starters, it’s a year-round activity if you have access to an indoor pool. Don’t want to go out for a run in sub-zero temperatures? Why not go for a swim in the pool at your local gym? Swimming offers a total-body workout that you won’t get from other activities like running or cycling. Here are some more benefits of adding swimming to your workout routine:
Builds muscle strength and can prevent future injury. Because swimming works so many of your muscles at one time, it’s great for improving your overall strength, which in turn can help you avoid injury. For example, swimming is a great recovery and cross-training exercise for runners because it not only gives your body a break from pounding the pavement but works muscle groups that have been neglected. This is important because weaker muscles could lead to a muscle imbalance, putting you at greater risk for injury.
Helps with injury rehabilitation. When you do injure a joint or muscle, whether it’s from overuse, lack of use or because of an accident, your doctor may recommend swimming for rehab. Because it’s a low-impact activity, swimming can help increase your range of motion and rebuild muscle that has weakened due to an injury. Even if you’re not a strong swimmer, simple water aerobics could aid your rehabilitation.
Boosts cardiovascular fitness. If you want to improve your endurance, consider swimming laps for 30–60 minutes. Take breaks as needed, but make sure you are swimming at a pace that elevates your heart rate and fatigues your muscles over time. Swimming shouldn’t feel relaxed and easy if you’re swimming to increase your fitness.
Improves flexibility. The gentle resistance of water against your body coupled with a comfortable water temperature can really help loosen your muscles and increase flexibility. This is important since flexible, loose muscles are less prone to injury.
Relaxes the body and reduces stress. Swimming is physically less stressful on the body, but it can also relieve mental stress. For me, there is something mentally relaxing about that feeling of buoyancy and the simple repetition of swimming lap after lap. I think there is a swimming high similar to the running high many athletes experience—it just feels good.