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The benefits of swimming
When was the last time you jumped in your local pool and swam a few laps? For me, it had been years – until I recently discovered the benefits of swimming. Now that I know the benefits of swimming, I’m super keen to jump into my local pool and follow some swimming workouts – and I reckon that after reading this, you will be too.
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Curious, I decided to find out whether swimming for weight loss could be incorporated into my never-ending quest for a summer bikini body. I spoke to former professional synchronised swimmer and personal trainer at 98 Riley Street Victoria Burdon to discuss the benefits of swimming and how it can work for you. As she explains, swimming is a great option for a wide variety of people. “I would recommend swimming for everyone, no matter your age, your level of experience or your goals,” she says. “Swimming can be used as active recovery if you are a regular gym-goer, or for improved cardiovascular benefits for those who do other forms of training.” But if you’re not a fitness fanatic, don’t think you’re destined for the sidelines of the pool. “Swimming is also ideal for anyone with injuries or health issues that need a low impact option,” says Victoria. “It has so many physical benefits that adding a regular swim into your exercise regime will benefit you at any stage.”
Intrigued? I know I was! So without further ado, let’s get aquatic.
The benefits of swimming
Rather than just being a nice way to unwind on a hot day, swimming has an endless amount of health benefits, too. “Swimming helps improve cardiovascular fitness and is extremely beneficial for all ages and fitness levels,” says Victoria. “It is low impact and non-weight bearing, which makes it suitable for those who are limited by age or injury and is a great way to stay fit if you are limited in any way.”
But don’t think swimming is just for those who need an alternative to more strenuous exercises. As Victoria explains, one of the benefits of swimming is that it works your whole body. “It will improve mobility, as the body moves through a wide range of motion,” she says. “It gets the whole body working which will help maintain muscle mass and improve strength.” And if you’re not exactly hitting it out of the park when it comes to your fitness, Victoria says that swimming is easily adaptable. “It is easy to modify to your fitness level or your work capacity on any given day,” she says. “Swimming can be as easy or intense as you need it to be, which makes it a great way to exercise.”
Another of the many benefits of swimming is that it is very accessible for most, making it relatively easy to incorporate into your daily routine. “If you live near a beach, you can start your day in the water. Because of the calming effects on the body, it’s a great way to get out into the fresh air, get moving, and kick off the day in a relaxed state,” says Victoria. Not near an ocean? No problem. “If you have a pool near your work, lunchtime is great to fit in a quick swim or even after work,” says Victoria. “You only need 30 minutes to get a great workout and reap the benefits from a swimming session.”
Swimming for weight loss and fitness
Tired of doing the same old spin class to sculpt your summer body? Swimming is a great way to mix up your cardio. “There are massive cardiovascular benefits to adding swimming into your exercise routine – it strengthens the heart and improves the body’s efficiency to use oxygen, allowing you to exercise harder and longer without fatiguing,” explains Victoria. “Since swimming is a full body workout, it will raise your heartrate while teaching you to control your breathing and flailing limbs.”
Besides greatly improving your cardiovascular fitness, swimming will also benefit your mobility, strength and coordination. “It requires body awareness and coordination to control your entire body with each stroke, but your body will naturally become more efficient at the movements with the more practice you get,” says Victoria. “You will use muscles you didn’t know you had and it will help maintain muscle mass and build muscular endurance. This is a great way to build core strength and engage muscles you don’t focus on in strength training.”
To start swimming for weight loss or fitness, Victoria suggests establishing some swimming workouts that will help you achieve your goals. “The best results will come from lap swimming but I know it’s not for everyone. Luckily, swimming is so versatile and easy to modify to your likes and needs,” she says. “You don’t have to stare at the line on the bottom of the pool for an hour to reap the benefits. If slow and steady doesn’t appeal to you, try shorter distant sprints with timed rests between.” And if you still want a to feel a greater burn, Victoria says it’s easy to incorporate other exercises into your swimming workouts. “You can add body weight strength exercises like squats, pushups, or lunges at the end of every lap or two to mix in some weight bearing strength work,” she says.
If you’re not particularly keen on the pool, swimming also provides some excellent options for getting outdoors. “Surfing or bodyboarding are good activities to improve your swimming and fitness as well as coordination and balance,” suggests Victoria. “Stand-up paddleboarding will also challenge the core, balance, and endurance.”
Whichever form of swimming you choose for weight loss or fitness, Victoria says you won’t have to put in hours of work to see results. “Swimming burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time, so in today’s time-poor society it’s a great way to go.”
Swimming for mental and physical wellbeing
Not only will you benefit physically from swimming, but you can also feel the effects mentally as well. “Swimming is a stress relieving exercise and helps to relax and calm the body. Not only because of the smooth, continuous movements but being in water has many proven benefits in itself,” explains Victoria. “Improving your physical strength and cardio will improve your heart health and just like any form of exercise, will improve your mood, help with weight control, and reduce your risk of disease as you age like heart disease, diabetes, and loss of bone density.” And if you’re currently dealing with an injury, Victoria advises that swimming can also help. “Any water-based classes are great for those with joint issues or who are recovering from an injury, as the water still provides resistance to work against.”
To start reaping the mental benefits of swimming, Victoria recommends seeking out a water-based activity that’s right for you. “All swimming and water activities are proven to be more calming and relaxing for the body so using any water-based sport to reduce stress will improve your mental and overall health,” she says. “Especially in the summer months, I would recommend anything that will get you out in the sunshine – stand up paddleboarding, surfing, and lap swimming are all great options for reducing stress, allowing the body time to recover, and some quality time in the sun soaking up Vitamin D.”
Have you experienced the benefits of swimming? Would you try swimming for health and fitness?