Swimming is one of the world’s most popular sports, enjoyed by more than one billion men, women, and children. In addition to being fun, however, it has some genuine health benefits. This article explores the top five health benefits of swimming, revealing why this sport should be included in everyone’s fitness regimen.
Ranked as the fourth most popular sport in the United States by the Census Bureau, swimming is a fun and rewarding activity that people of all ages can enjoy. You don’t need any specialized equipment to swim, nor do you need any formal training. It’s this unmatched level of simplicity that attracts millions of men, women, and children to the sport every year.
But swimming also offers some essential health benefits, some of which may surprise you.
1) Reduces Stress
Swimming is the perfect way to unwind and relax after a stressful day at work. It promotes the release of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) that control stress and anxiety.
An international survey commissioned by Speedo reinforced these beliefs, as 74% of swimmers say it reduces stress and tension. Also, more than two-thirds of swimmers believe the sport mentally refreshes them. So, the next time you feel stressed—whether from work, money, health, or other reasons—consider taking a dip in the pool.
2) Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Swimming has been shown to be particularly effective at preventing and managing diabetes thanks to its positive impact on blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that swimming improves insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to regulate levels of sugar in the blood better.
3) Promotes a Healthy Weight
With its ability to engage every dominant muscle group in your body, swimming is the perfect workout for individuals who are looking to lose weight. According to ACTIVE, swimming freestyle at a fast pace for 60 minutes burns approximately 704 calories. Of course, swimming at a slower pace will burn fewer calories, but swimming is still an effective exercise for shedding those unwanted pounds.
If you really want to amplify the weight loss benefits of swimming, choose a pool with cooler-than-average water in which to swim. Research shows that swimming in cold water burns more calories than swimming in warm water. Researchers speculate that this phenomenon could be attributed to the way in which cold water affects our metabolism and cardiovascular system.
4) Slows Down Aging
Swimming is perhaps the closest thing to an actual Fountain of Youth. According to a study conducted by researchers at Indiana University, the average swimmer is biologically 20 years younger than a non-swimmer of the same chronological age.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that swimming is going to make you 20 years younger. Instead, it keeps your organs healthy and in shape while you age. If you want to reap this benefit though, you need to swim on a regular basis by making it a part of your weekly fitness regimen.
5) Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
Roughly 610,000 people in the U.S. die every year from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To put that number into perspective, that means roughly one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease.
Like running and other aerobic exercises, swimming can lower your risk of heart disease. It will help lower your blood pressure, improves your metabolism, and raises levels of good cholesterol (HDL), all of which strengthen the heart and protect it from disease.
Aside from the health benefits it provides, swimming is just plain fun. Whether it’s in a pool, ocean, or lake, there’s something unique about this sport that’s not found elsewhere. With all of the health benefits it offers, it’s no wonder that swimming is the fourth most popular sport in the United States.