Swimming is one of the most effective and beneficial activities for us and our health. Along with lowering the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes, swimming keeps our heart rate up, while taking impact stress off your body. There are few activities that can compete with swimming.

Low impact

Swimming is a low impact activity, meaning there is no additional force or strain being applied to joints from the impact of your feet with the ground. This type of low impact activity is a great way to stay active and exercise while managing our arthritic conditions. Water aerobics is another low impact activity which can be used for the same reason. Furthermore, as swimming is a low impact form of exercise, you can carry on with the activity for a lifetime. There are swimming groups and competitions for adults in their 100s so there are no excuses!

Cardiovascular fitness

Swimming is an effective activity for the efficiency of our heart and lungs, increasing our endurance levels and helping our overall fitness. Our bodies adapt to the lower oxygen levels and in turn uses the oxygen more efficiently. We also take in more air with each breath we take, removing carbon dioxide as we breathe out. Increasing the efficiency of our lungs will lower our blood pressure and heart rate when we rest.

Strengthening

Swimming is a superb way to help build multiple muscle groups and tone your body. It is no coincidence that athlete swimmers look like they have been carved from stone. Swimming can help us to work on areas of the body that are sometimes neglected by other activities. With the many variations in swimming techniques, we are able to choose the areas of the body we wish to strengthen. As we aim to balance ourselves and stay afloat using our arms and legs, the deeper stabilising muscles of our core and lower back are used to maintain a horizontal position, further strengthening our bodies balance.

Alternative activity when injured

Swimming is a frequently used form of exercise for those who are injured or recovering from an injury (mostly lower limb problems). This is a great way of maintaining fitness levels and often referred to as part of a rehabilitation process. This is due to the water providing resistance to make the muscles work that little bit harder without the stresses or the strain of impact through contact with the ground.

Reduces stress

As with all forms of exercise, swimming causes your body to release endorphins which help to lower our stress levels. However, it has been found in some studies that swimming can have additional benefits in relation to this. It is said that being in the water reduces the amount of sensory information that your body receives and therefore brings on a feelings of calmness. Ideal if you want exercise and relax at the same time, but also for anyone that is worried about an injury they are trying to recover from. Often, a huge part of the rehabilitation process is in the mind. Having a relaxed and positive mind can work wonders for your recovery.

If you would like more information regarding swimming and all of its benefits, please use our FREE ‘Ask A Physio’ service online at www.physiofusion.co.uk

We’d love to hear from you.

Karen Willcock (Chartered Physiotherapist)