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SWIMMING IS A GREAT LOW-IMPACT EXERCISE AND A FANTASTIC WAY TO GET – AND STAY – FIT. SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GET IN THE WATER AND ENJOY THESE HEALTH PERKS
1. HELPS YOU MANAGE YOUR WEIGHT
Swimming breaststroke for 30 minutes will burn approximately 367Kcal, depending on your weight and speed. That beats walking, which burns only 99Kcal in the same time, cycling, which uses up 240Kcal in half an hour, and even running at 6mph, which burns 300Kcal. To find out how many calories your preferred swimming stroke burns, log on to swimming.org’sCalorie Cruncher.
2. LOWERED STRESS LEVELS AND INCREASED SELF-ESTEEM
A worldwide survey of almost 4,000 swimmers by swimwear brand Speedo revealed that getting in the pool is the perfect way to unwind. 74% of those questioned agreed that swimming helps release stress and tension while 68% said that being in the water helps them to feel good about themselves and 70% felt that swimming helps them to feel mentally refreshed.
3. BETTER MOOD
No matter what your level, swimming can make you feel better. An American study involving 100 swimmers found that both novice and intermediate swimmers felt significantly less tension, depression, anger and confusion after exercising than before. It may be because swimming, like other forms of exercise, stimulates the release of feel-good hormone serotonin.
4. STRENGTHENS MUSCLES
Because water is thicker than air, the resistance of the water can be up to 44 times greater than that of air, which means you have to work harder to move through it. ‘Using the resistance of water in exercise is like working out with weights or machines on land, but without the need for equipment,’ says Zoe Cooper, Development Manager of the Swimming Teachers Association.
5. IMPROVED SLEEP
The National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 poll found that people who take vigorous exercise, such as swimming, are almost twice as likely as non-exercisers to report, “I had a good night’s sleep”, every night, or almost every night. They are also the least likely to report sleep problems; more than two-thirds of vigorous exercisers say they rarely or never had symptoms commonly associated with insomnia, including waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep and difficulty falling asleep.
6. IT’S LOW-IMPACT
‘About 90% of your body’s weight is buoyant when you swim, so you’re only bearing 10% of your weight,’ explains Cooper, adding, ‘this allows for greater ease of movement with less strain placed on bones, joints and muscles.’
7. IT’S SWEAT-FREE
‘While swimming, your constant movement generates up to 85% of your body heat but because water that’s cooler than your core body temperature is continually moving all around you and cooling you down, you never feel over-heated or get sweaty,’ observes Cooper.
8. IT’S KINDER TO YOUR HEART
As you swim, the water that surrounds your body exerts pressure which helps your circulatory system return your blood to your heart. ‘The demand on your heart is reduced by up to 17 beats per minute or 13% compared to someone exercising on land,’ Cooper reveals.
9. HELPS PREVENT TYPE 2 DIABETES
Swimming for at least half an hour three to four times a week, combined with eating a balanced low-glycaemic index (GI) diet, has been shown to control blood sugar levels, according to theAmateur Swimming Association, the English national governing body for swimming.
10. REDUCED BLOOD PRESSURE AND CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Studies have shown that swimming for 30 minutes at least three times a week can significantly lower your blood pressure. One study found that resting heart rate was considerably lowered after just 10 weeks of regular swimming. Plus, swimming for half an hour or longer helps reduce the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood while raising the levels of HDL – good cholesterol, says the ASA.