A few days ago Tami wrote about going for a swim in her neighborhood pool and what a great workout it was. It got me thinking, why don't more people swim? It's one of the best exercises out there. Well, Kalyn, not everyone knows that. (And not everyone knows how to swim but that's a different soap box). Here's some reasons you should give lap swimming a try.
First and foremost, swimming is a form of cardio, or aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is any exercise that you perform over an extended length of time (3+ minutes) that causes your heart rate and your respirations to increase, thus leading to more oxygenation in the muscles. Cardio essentially strengthens the heart muscles, and your heart can pump more oxygenated blood through your body with less effort. This is why athletes generally have lower heart rates (around 50-60 bpm) because their heart can pump more blood with each contraction. Neat, huh?
Another neat thing about cardio is that it helps you burn fat. There are two types of "fuel" our muscles can use, fat or carbs. It is easier for them to use carbs because they are less dense and require less oxygen. So when you're doing cardio, you're pumping more blood (more oxygen) to your muscles, so they can break down fat easier.
Easy on your joints
If you've been an athlete for a long time, you probably have osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Basically your knees, elbows, ankles prematurely deteriorate from overuse. So if running hurts your knees or kickboxing hurts your hands, try swimming instead. The buoyancy of the water supports your body weight, therefore alleviating the stress on your joints.
When you swim, you use muscles all over your body. Your legs, arms, back, and core are all used to propel you and keep you floating. To really make sure you utilize all of your muscles, practice different strokes.
Regulates Breathing & Improves Lung Control
Obvs if your going to be swimming with your face under water, you aren't going to be panting like you would be when you are running/biking/walking/etc. Because we need to hold our breath, swimming allows us to regulate our breathing pattern and gain lung control. This is helpful if you are a runner that might have a hard time catching her breath.
This may be more of a personal opinion, but I think swimming is one of the most relaxing forms of exercise there is. Maybe because I'm good at it? I'm not trying to be cocky (promise) because I know there are people out there that don't swim well, or those that are even afraid of the water. And if you are one of those people, pleeeease please (with sugar on top) just give it a try? I promise you won't regret it!
*One thing I feel like I should mention about swimming is that unfortunately, it is not the best exercise for weight loss. But Kalyn, didn't you just get through saying that swimming was one of the best exercises everrr?? Yes. And it still is. But because swimming only burns about 500 kcals per hour, you aren't going to be losing much weight. If your goal is to lose weight, then I would reccomend using swimming as an adjunct form of exercise because it can still be beneficial. Here are some things swimming IS good for (aka the short ans sweet version of this whole post):
Are you a swimmer/do you swim for exercise? Have you considered it or would you?