By Brooks Hill
September 14, 2016 (San Diego's East County) - Almost everyone enjoys hanging out at the pool. Whether it’s in your own backyard or at an apartment complex, people love splashing in the water. Often times, though, pools are viewed simply as a means for fun and not an effective way to workout. Believe it or not, swimming is actually one of the most effective ways to workout and promotes both physical and mental health, and although summer is coming to a close a heated pool or the right recreational swimming or triathlon wetsuit can have you swimming all year round!
Easy on the Body
First and foremost, what makes swimming such an effective means of exercise is how easy it is on your body. Water provides little resistance and builds muscles while causing no joint stress. Swimming also gives the body time to heal after more strenuous workouts such as running or weight training. It also flushes out the toxins that build up during anaerobic exercises due to lactic acid, which prevents tightness and soreness in the muscles post workout.
Swimming in warm water also helps to relax the muscles promoting greater flexibility.
Swimming has been clinically proven to promote a healthy cardiovascular system and even lengthen lifespan. According to a study done by the University of South Carolina, active swimming cuts the risk of dying by 50% in males as compared to runners, walkers and their inactive peers. The study was done over a 32 year period with men ranging from 20 to 90 years old and included 40,000 participants.
Another study done by the Cooper Clinic out of Dallas, Texas compared blood pressure, cholesterol levels, maximum energy output, along with other measures of cardiovascular health across slightly less than 46,000 male and female swimmers, runners, walkers and inactive people. Swimmers and runners performed the best, followed fairly closely by walkers.
Complements Your Other Workouts
Because swimming is so easy on the body, swimmers are able to train for longer periods of time. Ability to train for longer periods allows the lungs and heart to build up endurance which allows the body to burn more calories and therefore promote increased weight loss. In addition to this, swimming increases lung capacity because water is denser than air and therefore your lungs have to work harder to provide the same amount of oxygen to the blood. Increased lung capacity will crossover to your other methods of working out and allow you continue for longer periods of time.
In addition to increased lung capacity, swimming builds longer and leaner muscles which complements the shorter, denser muscles that are built during running and weight training. Swimming is also a great overall workout because it utilizes most of your muscles simultaneously.
A lot of us struggle with depression and anxiety. Some of us cope with therapy, medication, or sometimes both. Often times exercise is overlooked and swimming is one of the most effective workouts for combatting mental health issues It’s so effective for some that they use it in lieu of prescription medication. The reason why swimming is so effective at promoting mental health is that it incorporates many of the elements of meditation. Immersion in water is relaxing and deep, rhythmic breathing helps the mind to ease and focus on muscle motions. The strokes used during swimming allow the skeletal muscles to relax all together provide a stress relieving, meditative workout.
Now that you’re inspired to start using swimming as a regular exercise you need to make sure your pool has the proper levels of chemicals. Salt water pools are the best for your skin, but many of us don’t have access to this type of pool. Ensuring that your pool has the proper chlorine, pH, calcium and alkalinity can save your skin and hair from damage. In addition to saving your body, proper water testing will also help increase the lifespan of your pool and keep you swimming for years to come!