Why is Swimming one of the Most Heart Healthy Exercises?Shawn Slevin
In addition to toning visible muscles, swimming also helps improve the most important muscle in our bodies: our heart!
Swimming is an aerobic exercise, it strengthens the heart by helping it to become larger; making it more efficient in pumping — which leads to better blood flow throughout your body. 30 minutes of swimming a day can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 to 40 percent. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce blood pressure. Swimming raises “good” cholesterol HDL levels. For every 1 percent increase in HDL cholesterol, the risk of dying from heart disease drops by 3.5 percent. Studies have also shown that aerobic exercise like swimming can also keep the layer of cells lining your arteries flexible and in good shape.
Other benefits too:
- Want to help prevent diabetes? Swim! Men can reduce their risk of diabetes by an average of 6 percent for every 500 calories a week they burn in aerobic exercise. With just 30 minutes of breaststroke swimming three times per week, you could burn 900 calories — reducing your risk of contracting type 2 diabetes by over 10 percent. Vigorous exercise for women can lower their risk by 16% over inactive women. If you already have type 1diabetes, the aerobic benefits of swimming can be particularly helpful, as this type of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics should get 150 minutes per week, spread across at least three days per week, of moderate-intensity physical activity like swimming to aid glycemic control.
- Lower Stress + Higher Spirits = Better Brain all due to the release of endorphins, giving you relaxation and a “natural high”. Swimming changes the brain through a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis, in which the brain replaces cells lost through stress.
- Swimming provides the chance to work out in moist air, which can help reduce exercise-induced asthma symptoms. It also relieves the condition overall by increasing lung volume and teaching proper breathing techniques.
- Swimming is now recognized as one of the biggest calorie burners around, and it’s great for keeping weight under control. The exact number of calories you burn, of course, depends on your own physiology and the intensity with which you exercise, but as a general rule, for every 10 minutes of swimming: the breast stroke will burn 60 calories; the backstroke 80; the freestyle 100; and the butterfly stroke evaporates an impressive 150.
- Swimming puts the body through a broad range of motion that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible. It’s a great way to increase muscle strength and tone. Water is 12 times more dense than air. Propelling through the water acts as resistance exercise…which is the best way to build muscle tone and strength. Additionally, swimming has also been shown to improve bone strength — especially in post-menopausal women.
- Suffer from arthritis? Get into the pool. The water will support 90% of your body weight! If the pool is heated, the warm water can help loosen still joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis can receive greater benefits to their health after participating in hydrotherapy than with other activities. It’s also been proven that water-based exercise improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.
- Perhaps best of all…swimming can keep you from dying prematurely. Researchers at the University of South Carolina followed 40,547 men, aged 20 to 90, for 32 years and discovered that those who swam had a 50 percent lower death rate than runners, walkers or men who got no exercise. The study authors concluded that the same benefits would be received by women too.
What are you waiting for? Join a Swim Strong class for Safety and Health today!
Sources: The American Heart Association; Annals of Internal Medicine; University of Maryland; Columbia University; Science Daily, Huang, etal; CDC and Prevention