The 12 Best Benefits of Swimming

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The benefits of swimming are countless. In this article we will explore a few very important of them. It is a known fact that experts in the field recommend adults to engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Swimming is a superb way to exercise your entire body and cardiovascular system. In fact, an hour of swimming can burn almost as many calories as running does, but with less impact on your bones and joints.

In the United States, swimming is the fourth most popular activity, and there are several benefits you may gain from regularly swimming laps.

If you’re new to swimming, or if you’re using it as a form of exercise, it’s important to take it slow and not overdo it. Even though swimming is considered a low-impact activity, pushing yourself too hard too quickly can lead to injuries, as stated by Radermacher, a doctor of chiropractic and sports chiropractor with Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and a former collegiate swimmer.

To prevent injury, be on the lookout for three signs that might suggest potential harm rather than just typical post-workout muscle soreness.

  1. Any pain or discomfort that lasts for more than 72 hours
  2. Sharp, acute pain that comes on suddenly
  3. Pain that is intense, pulsating, or spreads to other areas of your body

Keep reading to explore the advantages of swimming and discover how you can incorporate swimming into your routine.

Benefits of Swimming

1. Swimming exercises every part of your body

Swimming is a fantastic way to get a full-body workout, as it engages all parts of your body from head to toe. This low-impact activity increases your heart rate and helps you tone your muscles, build strength, and endurance.

To make your swimming workout more interesting, you can try different strokes such as:

  • breaststroke
  • backstroke
  • sidestroke
  • butterfly
  • freestyle

Each stroke targets different muscle groups, and the resistance of the water adds an extra challenge. Regardless of the stroke you choose, you’ll be using most of your muscles to move yourself through the water.

2. Swimming can help you live longer

As your muscles are put to work during swimming, your cardiovascular system also gets a great workout, leading to a stronger heart and lungs. Swimming is incredibly beneficial for your health, with some studies even suggesting it may lower your risk of mortality. In fact, research has shown that swimmers have about a 50% lower risk of death compared to those who are inactive.

Moreover, swimming has also been found to have positive effects on blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Several studies indicate that swimming can help lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar control, making it an excellent activity for overall health and wellness.

3. Swimming is suitable for individuals with injuries, arthritis, and other medical conditions

It is important to obtain your doctor’s approval before starting or resuming any exercise routine.
Swimming can be a suitable and safe exercise option for individuals who have medical conditions such as:

  • arthritis
  • injuries
  • disabilities
  • other issues that are affected by high-impact exercises

Swimming has the potential to alleviate pain and expedite recovery from injuries. According to a study, individuals suffering from osteoarthritis reported a significant reduction in joint pain and stiffness, improved muscle strength, as well as a decrease in physical limitations, after participating in activities such as swimming and cycling.

If you experience stiffness or joint pain, it may be beneficial to consider aquatic physical therapy as a way to prepare yourself for lap swimming, particularly if you have fibromyalgia, or suffer from severe pain or any of the conditions mentioned above.

4. Swimming is a good option for people with asthma

Swimming can be an excellent activity for individuals with asthma due to the moist environment found in indoor pools. Additionally, breathing exercises that are associated with swimming, such as breath-holding, may assist in enhancing lung capacity and managing breathing.

However, some research indicates that swimming may raise the likelihood of developing asthma due to the chemicals employed in pool maintenance. If you have asthma, it is recommended that you discuss the potential risks of swimming with your physician and, if feasible, seek out a saltwater pool rather than one that uses chlorine.

5. Swimming is good for people with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Swimming can be beneficial for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). The buoyancy of water can support limbs during exercise and the water resistance can be gentle yet effective.

A study has shown that participating in a 20-week swimming program led to significant reduction in pain, as well as improvements in symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and disability for those with MS.

6. Swimming burns calories

Swimming is a highly effective way to burn calories. For a 160-pound (72.6 kg) individual, swimming laps at a low or moderate pace burns approximately 423 calories per hour, while swimming at a more vigorous pace can burn up to 715 calories per hour. A 200-pound (90.7 kg) person engaging in the same activities may burn between 528 and 892 calories per hour, and a 240-pound (108.9 kg) person could burn between 632 and 1,068 calories per hour.

By comparison, walking at a moderate pace of 3.5 miles per hour for 60 minutes burns only about 314 calories for a 160-pound person (72.6 kg), while practicing yoga burns approximately 183 calories per hour. Using an elliptical trainer burns around 365 calories per hour for the same weight.

7. Swimming improves your sleep

A study conducted on older adults with insomnia suggests that swimming can effectively improve sleep quality. Participants who engaged in regular aerobic exercise, including swimming, reported an increase in both quality of life and sleep. The study focused on various types of aerobic exercise, such as swimming, elliptical, stair climbing, cycling, and exercise videos.

This is positive news for the almost 50 percent of older adults who experience some form of insomnia. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that is particularly suitable for individuals with physical limitations, which may have difficulties when it comes to high-impact exercises like running. Therefore, swimming is an excellent choice for older adults looking to enhance their sleep quality.

8. Swimming improves your mood

A group of dementia patients were studied by researchers who found that their mood improved after participating in a 12-week aquatic program. But it’s not just people with dementia who can benefit psychologically from swimming and aquatic workouts. Exercise has been shown to elevate mood in others as well.

9. Swimming helps to manage stress

A study conducted by researchers involved surveying a group of swimmers at a YMCA in New Taipei City, Taiwan, both before and after swimming. Out of the 101 participants, 44 reported experiencing mild depression and stress due to their fast-paced lifestyle. However, after swimming, the number of people that still reported mildly stressed, decreased dramatically to only 8.

Although further research is necessary, the researchers suggest that swimming could be a powerful and effective way to quickly alleviate stress.

10. Swimming is safe during pregnancy

Benefits of swimming are numerous for both pregnant women and their babies. For instance, a study in animals showed that swimming by a pregnant rat could modify the brain development of her offspring, and possibly even protect them from a neurological issue called hypoxia-ischemia. While more research is needed to confirm these findings, swimming is generally considered safe and can be performed during all three trimesters of pregnancy.

Another study found no negative effects of swimming in chlorinated pools during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women who swam in the early to mid-stages of pregnancy had a lower risk of preterm labor and congenital defects.

However, it’s important to note that some women may have to limit their activity due to pregnancy complications. It’s recommended to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program during pregnancy, and if you have complications, ask about safe activities.

11. Swimming is great for kids

According to experts, children need a minimum of 60 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Fortunately, swimming is a fun activity that doesn’t feel like a workout.

Your child can participate in structured swimming lessons or join a swim team. Alternatively, unstructured swim time is a great way to get kids moving and engaged in physical activity.

12. Swimming is affordable

Swimming can be a cost-effective exercise option when compared to other activities like cycling. Many pools offer affordable rates for membership, and some public schools and centers provide free or low-cost swim hours based on your income level.

If you’re worried about the expense of joining a pool, consider checking with your employer or health insurance provider. Some companies offer reimbursements for participating in a fitness program, including swimming.

How to get started

If you’re interested in swimming, the first step is to find a pool in your area. Many gyms and community centers offer lap swimming, water aerobics, and aqua-jogging classes. To get started, you may want to create a list of facilities in your area that have a pool and visit them to see which one fits your lifestyle and budget best.

Get your muscles ready

To prepare for swimming, start slowly and consider beginning your fitness routine with strength training in the gym. This will work your muscles before you start swimming in the water. Some effective strength-training moves include assisted or unassisted pull-ups with up to ten repetitions, squats and deadlifts with your bodyweight, or overhead presses with half of your bodyweight. If you need help with proper form, consider consulting with a personal trainer.

Swimming lessons

If you’re new to swimming, consider taking swimming lessons in either a private or group setting. During these lessons, you’ll learn various strokes, breathing techniques, and other tips to help you maximize your workout.

Follow the pool rules

When you’re in the water, it’s important to follow pool etiquette. Most pools have slow, medium, and fast lanes, so ask the lifeguard to point out which lane suits your pace. If you need to pass someone, always do so on the left-hand side. And when you’re entering or exiting the pool, try to do so without creating waves or disrupting other swimmers. It’s also a good idea to keep your nails trimmed to avoid accidentally scratching other swimmers.


Swimming is generally considered safe for most people, but as with any workout, there are certain risks involved. If you have any medical conditions or injuries, it’s important to check with your doctor before starting a swimming routine. It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

If you have skin conditions like psoriasis, the chlorinated pool water may irritate your skin more. Your doctor can provide you with guidelines that are specific to your health needs.

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