Dive on in!

Why swimming is the best exercise for anyone and everyone

by Christie Belfiore

Swimming is a form of aerobic exercise that is stimulating, refreshing, and suitable for anyone. Whether you are trying to lose weight, be active, or just want something to do, swimming provides a perfect workout and leaves behind the stress and agony of sore muscles and bodily strains and pains. Not only that, but the Danforth area can provide the pool for you, such as the Main Square Community Recreational Centre (Danforth and Main), so grab your bathing suit and goggles and take a dip. Swimming can be anyone’s key to implementing a healthy lifestyle this season.

Physical Benefits

Besides the fact that swimming increases muscle tone and works to strengthen the body, it also stretches every limb to their greatest lengths, thus loosening any tight muscles and ligaments while increasing flexibility. Through the four most common strokes, including front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, and elementary backstroke, swimmers endure a broad range of motion as they work every muscle simultaneously. Although it may not feel as though this is occurring because water is twelve times denser than air, it is one of the great things about swimming, This means that activities such as running or skipping don’t require as much force because air doesn’t provide as much resistance as water does. Another great benefit of swimming is that it makes the heart stronger without straining it, therefore allowing for better blood flow and, in turn, a healthier individual.

photo by PLRANG images for design, January 2009.

Medical Benefits

There are numerous medical conditions that require aerobic activity that can be done by anyone of any size and at any age. This is where swimming comes into the picture. For individuals who are overweight, swimming presents itself as the perfect form of exercise because the water holds the excess weight and therefore doesn’t injure the body or overwork the heart. It also burns a lot of calories with what feels like little effort.

Those with arthritis can develop a sense of relief moving through the water because they can more easily use their affected joints without worsening the symptoms or causing any pain.

Likewise, individuals with asthma can exercise and elevate their heart rates more so than on land because they are exposed to moist air that allows for easier breathing. Often times, pools are heated (with heaters or the sun), so the heat mixed with the moist air allows for comfortable airflow. Heated pools can also be beneficial in relieving sore or pulled muscles.

For the elderly, swimming decreases disability and allows those who have trouble walking around to move through water and get more exercise than they would be able to on land, without causing them any pain. Even just walking or lightly kicking through the water, with or without floatation devices, is much better than remaining stationary and not working your muscles at all.

photo by Julia Renikka, May 2004

Psychological Benefits

Swimming, like any aerobic exercise, releases endorphins, thus making people happier. But swimming in particular works to calm people down, relax them, and relieve stress. This is mostly due to the fact that being in water relaxes your mind and muscles and combines that with a very rhythmic breathing pattern. That, mixed with a steady momentum and very fluid movements, creates a state of composure and tranquility that can be exceedingly soothing.

There is no doubt that swimming has tons of health benefits, so this summer dive in, have fun, and get some exercise! Whether you are a teen, adult, or elderly, with children, friends, or family, swimming is a great way to stay active and enjoy any season.

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