In the Swim

How swimming can help you to lose weight, build muscle and feel great

Summer is here, the lidos are opened and the pools are filling up. It’s time to get swimming. Widely regarded as one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise, swimming is also a fantatsic and fun way to help improve your heart rate and blood flow and maintain a healthy weight. But the health benefits don’t just end there. Here’s just a few reasons why you should spend large parts of this summer submerged.

Increased Muscle Tone and Strength

As water is much denser than air, swimming is a far more effective way of toning your muscles than any other form of cardiovascular exercise. When you swim you get the cardio part of your work-out while also working on an even body tone. Water provides a certain amount of extra resistance, which has a similar effect as using a light weight on a resistance machine at the gym.

Healthy heart

In addition to helping tone up pecs, triceps and quads, swimming also improves the most important muscle in our bodies – the heart. As an aerobic exercise, it serves to strengthen the heart, not only helping it to become larger, but making it more efficient in pumping, which leads to better blood flow throughout your body. This can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 40 per cent.

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.

Lower blood sugar levels

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 the Amateur Swimming Association, the English national governing body for swimming.

Low-impact

When submerged in water, the human body automatically becomes lighter and because around 90 per cent of your body’s weight is buoyant when you swim there is less strain placed on bones, joints and muscles. This makes it a fantastic exercise for people with injuries, who may be overweight or suffer from arthritis.

Flexibility

Unlike exercise machines in a gym that tend to isolate one body part at a time, swimming allows you to use a lot of muscles at the same time. The arms move in wide arcs, the hips are engaged as the legs scissor through the water, and the head and spine twist from side to side.

Helps manage weight

Swimming breaststroke for 30 minutes will burn approximately 400Kcal, depending on your weight and speed. That beats walking, cycling and even running at 6mph, which burns 300Kcal.

Improved sleep

People who take vigorous exercise, such as swimming, are almost twice as likely as non-exercisers to have a good night’s sleep. They are also the least likely to report sleep problems, like waking up too early or having difficulty falling asleep. This means you’ll be more likely to concentrate better, look more attractive and live longer