Swimming - Is It The Perfect Exercise?

The Benefits of Swimming

We all know we should be getting more exercise, and there's a lot of talk about going to the gym, running on the treadmill or pumping weights. But have you considered the health benefits of swimming?

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise that offers people of all ages a range of physical, psychological and social benefits.

Physically, regular swimming will:

. Give you a great whole body workout as it uses all your major muscle groups simultaneously

. Strengthen your heart and lungs

. Tone and strengthen your muscles

. Increase your aerobic fitness

. Build your endurance

. Burn calories and help you to maintain a healthy weight

. Help to improve coordination, balance and flexibility

As with most forms of exercise, swimming has psychological benefits, including helping you to relax and reducing stress and tension.

Swimming is also a great way to socialize. If you swim regularly at your local pool, you'll soon get to know and form friendships with many other people doing their daily laps. If you want to get more involved socially while also taking your swimming skills to another level, most pools have training squads for everyone from kids to veterans and many have swimming clubs with competitions and social activities.

Some extra advantages of swimming

In addition to all of these great benefits, swimming has some special advantages that other forms of exercise can't provide.

It's low impact, giving you all the cardiovascular and muscular strength benefits of exercise while reducing the wear and tear on joints such as ankles, knees and hips. This is an important benefit for many people, for example if you have arthritis, if you have certain types of injury or disability, and as you age.

You can swim at whatever pace suits you, from the gentlest of strokes to going as fast as you can. The ability to exercise gently and slowly is important if you've been ill or injured or if you're elderly or unfit.

Swimming is one of few sports that appeals to and can be undertaken by all ages. If you head down to your local pool, you'll find everybody from toddlers through to centenarians enjoying the water. Finding a form of exercise that you can continue throughout life is important as you age. You won't find many 80-year-old soccer players!  But you'll find lots of 80-year-olds swimming laps at the pool.

Finally, swimming is a great way to cool down on a hot day. Name one other form of exercise that helps you to do that!

Different strokes for different folks

So now that you know about all the great benefits of swimming, what sort of swimming should you do?

For recreational lap swimming, the most common strokes are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and side stroke. If you're familiar with these, why not try them all and see which you enjoy the most?  If you're totally new to swimming, it's worth getting some lessons to get started and most pools offer a range of lesson options including for adults who are beginners.

If you've been ill or have an injury, some strokes may be more appropriate than others. There are also other water-based activities that may be helpful such as walking or jogging in the water or other hydrotherapy techniques. You should get the advice of your doctor or physical therapist regarding the best water-based activities to help with your condition.

Most pools also offer aquarobics classes (a form of aerobics undertaken in the pool with music and an instructor), which are a great low-impact way to get fit while meeting new people and making new friends.

Getting into the swim of it

Although many experienced swimmers enjoy open water swimming in the ocean, rivers or dams, for most people the place to get started with swimming is at the local pool. Depending on where you live, this may be anything from a 100-year-old outdoor pool to a brand new indoor heated facility with spa, sauna, steam room, wave pool, water slides and more.

However, it doesn't really matter how fancy or basic your local pool is. As long as it has at least one lane for lap swimming, you're all set. Entry for lap swimming at most pools is cheap (about the price of a cup of coffee) and if you're going to swim regularly, be sure to ask about memberships and multi-visit passes, which usually end up being cheaper if you'll be visiting the pool more than a couple of times a week.

For a great form of low-impact exercise that will increase your fitness and give you a whole body workout, while making new friends and developing a health-promoting skill you can enjoy for the rest of your life, grab your swimming costume and goggles and head down to your local pool today!

About the author:  Brian Carroll is the CEO of Pivot Insurance and holds CLU & CPCU designations. He has been part of the life insurance industry for over 30 years. He is also an avid runner and has participated in many athletic endurance events. Brian established the anonymous life insurance quote process here at Pivot and takes pride in the caring and professional staff. You can reach Brian at 1-800-651-1953 or BCarroll@pivot.com.