Health Benefits of Swimming Exercises

An aerial view of a competitive swimmer executing the butterfly stroke in a pool.

No matter what your health goals or physical limitations are, there are endless health benefits to swimming. If you’re suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis or any other issues affecting your joints, you will find swimming especially useful. With regular swimming exercise, you can avoid aggravating your joints and still build muscle definition.

In addition to the muscle groups that different strokes target and tone, swimming promotes better cardiovascular health. As you propel yourself through the water, you’re strengthening the heart muscle and efficiently pumping blood throughout your body. Working alongside are your lungs that are delivering oxygen to your muscles. After learning more about the health benefits of swimming, you might be inspired to change up your routine at the gym.

What muscles get toned from swimming?

As you swim, you are activating most of your muscle groups simply by maneuvering through the gentle resistance of the water. To execute consistent, graceful movement in your strokes, your glutes and hamstring muscles are used for balance while your lower back and core abdominal muscles help you keep a steady pace. While pulling yourself forward, you’re activating your forearms. Based on the stroke you’re doing, certain muscle groups are more in demand than others. Strokes like Breaststroke require more effort from your pecs, glutes and quadriceps while the Front crawl stroke targets biceps, triceps and deltoids. When performing the Butterfly stroke, in order to mimic a proper mermaid kick you engage your glutes as well as your shoulder, biceps and triceps when making circular arm movements during your catch, pull and recovery.

An aerial view of a competitive female athlete swimming during a race.Is swimming good for joint pain?

Yes! Swimming pool exercises have been proven to reduce stress in joints and decrease pain in people that suffer from osteoarthritis. In fact, swimming has been proven to offer the same benefits as cycling as reported by a study on older adults with OA. Exercising in water relieves your joints from bearing your weight as you workout, as water supports 90% of your body weight. Additionally, as you put your body through a full range of motion, your joints are becoming more flexible. An added layer to the benefits of swimming is exercising in a heated pool. Taking a water aerobics class or doing laps in warm water provides soothing relief to inflamed and swollen joints.

Is swimming good for your lungs?

Swimming is great for increasing lung capacity. The relationship between healthy lungs and performance is important to understand. Our lungs deliver oxygen to our muscles as we workout. The more oxygen we send out, the more energized we are. Lower oxygen levels could lead to serious health issues like heart attack, stroke and weakened metabolic functions. As you continue getting comfortable with swimming, you’ll learn how to better control your breathing and over time, you’ll notice how long you can keep swimming without needing to come up for air.

Does swimming lower blood pressure?

As an excellent cardiovascular workout, swimming promotes better blood flow which directly correlates with lowered blood pressure. Swimming has actually been found to significantly reduce arterial blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. High-intensity workouts are not recommended for people with high blood pressure which is why swimming is a superior aerobic activity that keeps your heart rate up without putting unwanted strain or stress on your heart.

Dr. Van Thiel is a leading orthopedic surgeon with extensive experience in sports medicine. Working alongside athletes, he utilizes innovative solutions to treat hip, knee and shoulder injuries with the ultimate goal of returning his patients to their active lifestyles as soon as possible. If you’re seeking guidance on how to better manage joint pain or are in need of a consultation regarding a sports-related injury, contact OrthoIllinois in Rockford or Algonquin to request an appointment with Dr. Van Thiel.


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