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Most fitness buffs and athletes have training routines that help them maintain their overall health and appearance. Unfortunately, swim training is often overlooked even though it’s one of the most beneficial forms of exercise out there. Here are the top seven reasons to add swim training to your routine today.
Any time you perform an activity underwater, the amount of force you need to exert to perform that activity is increased by anywhere from 20% to 50%. This means that simply moving your leg requires more energy, which puts more strain on your body. The longer you swim, and the more often you swim, the more your body can acclimate to longer, tougher workouts. This translates to better performance, whether in a marathon, in the gym, or even on the playing field.
Your circulatory system plays an important role in your body’s ability to recover after tough workouts. Of course, it allows for better oxygen and nutrient delivery, but it does much more, too. Strong circulation helps to clear lactate, a byproduct of the metabolic process that causes soreness and fatigue, from your bloodstream more efficiently. The hydrostatic properties of water, which refers to the equal pressure exerted on every submerged part of your body, reduce inflammation, as well. The combination of these things makes recovery far more tolerable – and much faster.
A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 2012 suggested that swimming a few times per week could have a measurable and often significant impact on blood pressure. Forty-three men and women with an average age of 60 were asked to participate in regular swim training for 12 weeks. Before the study began, the average systolic blood pressure reading was 131; following the study, that number had dropped to 122. Of course, these benefits aren’t confined to only older adults and absolutely anyone can reap the rewards.
Whether you’re recovering from an injury or simply attempting to reduce the amount of stress you put on your joints when you exercise, swim training is the perfect solution. It allows you to adjust your intensity on the fly, but also provides buoyancy that reduces impact. Depending on your weight and the depth of the water, it’s possible to relieve as much as 90% of your body weight. That’s why doctors often recommend swimming as a form of therapy and rehabilitation or as an introduction to advanced fitness.
More than 10 million people in the United States alone have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, and another 44 million have low bone density according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. For decades, doctors and therapists have recommended weight-bearing exercise along with a healthy diet for the retention of healthy bone mass, but this recommendation has been controversial for some time. Recently, studies have suggested that swimming can improve bone density (femoral bone density, more specifically) in patients who are unable to participate in sufficient weight-bearing exercises due to injury or lack of capability.
Swim training does more than simply help you build more muscle. In fact, it can also make your existing muscles stronger. When you use the resistance that water provides to your advantage, it’s much like using weights or resistance equipment at the gym. You’re forcing your muscles to work harder in a variety of situations, which strengthens them over time.
A 2014 study published in the Muscles, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal showed that swimming power translated directly to power in other situations, too. The participants in this trial were asked to lift their maximum weight, which was measured and recorded. Then, they were asked to undergo swim training for a period of several weeks, without any weightlifting or training at all during that time. At the end of the trial period, the participants were again asked to lift their maximum weight, which was much higher than before the trial commenced. This is an indication that swimming alone can boost muscle strength significantly.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder trying to maintain a very strict body fat percentage or someone trying to shed a few extra pounds, swim training is the perfect solution. Using very sophisticated equipment, it’s possible for researchers to discover just how many calories the average person burns during 30 minutes of exercise. These studies have shown that swimming burns 300 calories in 30 minutes if you breaststroke; in that same amount of time, you’ll only burn 99 calories walking or 240 calories cycling at a moderate intensity.
Swim training is one of the best all-around workouts available, and that’s true whether you’re an athlete or the average man or woman trying to get (or stay) in shape. Swimming for 30 minutes per day three or four times a week can help you look and feel better, and it may just help you live longer, too.