Benefits of Swimming

on June 7, 2011

Physical therapists and fitness trainers everywhere tout the effectiveness of swimming in a regular exercise routine, especially for people facing specific fitness challenges such as osteoarthritis. Swimming is also beneficial for burning calories and getting into shape, and it’s easy for anyone to enjoy, even without any previous experience or base fitness level.

Low impact. Swimming is extremely popular for older individuals or people with chronic illnesses or conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “People with rheumatoid arthritis have more health improvements after participating in hydrotherapy than with other activities. Water-based exercise also improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.” These are two of the most common — but far from the only — conditions where swimming may be beneficial. In addition, those at risk for arthritis (obese/overweight or over 40) can use swimming for achieving better fitness levels without the wear and tear on the joints that leads to osteoarthritis.

Easy variability. Some people can get a good workout from treading water for 15 minutes, while others need vigorous laps for an hour to get that same workout. Regardless of where you are in overall fitness, swimming can easily be tailored to your needs. By the same token, exercises can be altered to match the needs related to any physical challenges and any targeted fitness goals.

Lower chance of injury. Most types of exercise rely entirely on your balance or strength to prevent injury. Depending on the exercise that you’re doing, a misstep or muscle cramp can mean a trip to the emergency room. In a swimming pool, you’re practically weightless so tripping and falling isn’t an issue, and there are generally no exercise machines that might present a hazard. In addition, swimming eliminates any repetitive impact shock on your joints and muscles. While swimming does take a little bit of ability in order to turn it into a true workout, it is possibly the best balance of effective exercise versus risks.

Found in: Fitness