Helps with arthritis and much more

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Swimming is for everyone. It has often been called “the perfect exercise”. It’s not only an important survival skill that people should have, but it’s also great exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is also a very low impact exercise that can be done by people even when they are prohibited from doing other high impact cardio workouts. In fact, it’s often used by athletes recovering from injuries to stay fit and healthy. Here are some proven benefits of swimming as an exercise. Continue reading.

  • Provides a full body workoutt: One of the main reasons swimming is so appealing as an exercise is that it provides a full body workout. It not only increases heart rate without stressing the body, but also tones muscles and builds strength and endurance. Different swimming styles help tone different muscle groups in the body, but the whole body is trained.
  • Improves heart and lung strength: The cardiovascular system gets a great workout while swimming. Studies have shown that swimming can halve the death rate compared to a sedentary lifestyle or ones that include walking or running. Other studies also show that swimming can help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Suitable for all ages and fitness levels: While some exercises can seem very intimidating for beginners and people who are not necessarily in good shape, swimming is for everyone. Swimming allows people to go at their own pace and can also feel soothing. This is something that can be learned at a very young age and most pools have a designated area for new swimmers that is shallow and safe.
  • Good for people with arthritis and other injuries: Swimming puts little stress on the joints. The buoyancy of the water helps reduce the pressure on the weight-bearing joints. Since people with arthritis or other injuries cannot participate in high impact exercises, high resistance swimming is an ideal exercise because it supports the muscles. In fact, swimming regularly can actually help relieve pain and improve recovery rates. One study showed that people with osteoarthritis reported significant reductions in joint pain and stiffness, and experienced fewer physical limitations after engaging in activities like swimming and cycling.
  • Good option for people with asthma: As indoor pools have a humid atmosphere, they are very beneficial for people with asthma. Being a low impact exercise, it does not put as much strain on the heart and lungs as other exercises. Apart from this, breathing exercises used in swimming can help increase lung capacity and control breathing, thus helping people with asthma. However, a doctor should be consulted when choosing an exercise if one has asthma. Salt water might also be a better option than chlorinated water.
  • Burns calories very quickly: Swimming is a great way to burn calories. However, the amount of calories burned depends on a person’s weight and how vigorously they swim. A 160 pound or 72.5 kg person burns about 423 calories per hour swimming at a low to moderate pace. This same person can burn up to 715 calories per hour swimming at a more vigorous pace. To compare these numbers to other popular low-impact activities, that same person would only burn about 314 calories walking at 3 miles per hour for 60 minutes. Yoga might only burn 183 calories per hour. And the elliptical might only burn 365 calories in an hour.
  • Safe during pregnancy: Swimming during pregnancy can be great exercise for mother and child. It’s also possible that swimming protects babies against a type of neurological problem called hypoxia-ischemia. However, more research needs to be done on this. Studies show that pregnant women who swam from early to mid-pregnancy had a lower risk of preterm labor and birth defects. Along with this, the extra weight can cause joint and muscle pain during pregnancy. Swimming is particularly popular with pregnant women because the water can support this weight.

Swimming Safety Tips

The following swimming safety tips can help you reduce the risks associated with swimming:

  • Swim in designated swimming areas, such as swimming pools and marked off sections of lakes and other bodies of water. If possible, swim in areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • If you are not swimming under the supervision of a lifeguard, bring a buddy.
  • Consider taking swimming lessons if you are new to the sport.
  • Swimming outside? Wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 or higher to protect your skin. You may also want to avoid swimming between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is highest in the sky. Learn more about choosing sunscreen.
  • Remember to drink water, even if you are not thirsty. You may feel cool in the water, but you can become dehydrated while swimming. Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Children should always be supervised when near water. Never let children swim alone to avoid the risk of drowning.

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Richard V. Johnson