Why Swimming Is Good for Everyone

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Swimming is a great way to beat the heat! The cool water instantly refreshes the body, mind, and spirit. Swimming has lots of great benefits for your health. It is one of the few forms of exercise that has minimal wear and tear on the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming is the fourth most popular activity in the United States.

Did you know that swimming burns as many calories as running the same distance? This is because swimming is a full body workout. It’s an excellent way to engage your entire body and cardiovascular system. It’s a workout from head to toe! In general, swimming increases your heart rate without stressing the body, it also tones the muscles while building strength and endurance with continued engagement.

There are various strokes that you can apply to make your swim workout more diverse. The breaststroke is a great stroke for a cardiovascular workout. It helps strengthen the heart and lungs. It is also beneficial in toning the thighs, upper back, triceps, hamstrings, and lower legs. This form is also is a great stroke to tone the chest muscles. The backstroke is a good way to burn calories, relieve back pain, build muscle faster, and reduce osteoarthritis pain, while getting a full body workout. For those seeking a great exercise that does not tire your muscles while improving your breathing, muscle strength, and endurance, the sidestroke is an excellent choice. If you would like to tone your chest, stomach, and triceps, increasing your flexibility and stretch out your body to improve your posture, the butterfly stroke is an excellent choice. Another stroke that you may apply to your swim workout is the freestyle stroke. Regardless of the stroke you choose, swimming is a great form of exercise to move your muscles. Additionally, swimming is a great form of exercise for people that have physical limitations that eliminate them from other activities such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis.

While we know swimming is great for our muscles, it is also good for our inner body. Did you know that researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site that swimming may reduce the risk of death compared with inactive people. Other studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that swimming  may help lower blood pressure and sugar levels. Swimming, like all physical activities, releases endorphins, which are hormones produced in the pituitary glands. Endorphins interact with our brain to stimulate feelings of happiness and well-being. Research also shows that swimming improves your sleep, which will boost your overall quality of life.

Before you go swimming, there are a few essentials that you will need. If you are outdoors, you will need sunscreen. A sunscreen lotion that has a “Sun Protective Factor” ( SPF) 50 and water resistant is an excellent choice to keep your skin from burning. An SPF 30 blocks  about 97%, SPF 50 means about 98% is blocked, while SPF 100 means about 99% is blocked. Keep in mind that people with skin conditions such as psoriasis may get more irritated in chlorinated pool water. Remember to stay hydrated when swimming, as with any physical activity it is possible to get dehydrated. If you are a beginning swimmer, swim laps using a pool noodle, kick board, or life vest. Consult with your physician before starting any exercise routine for the best recommendations for your unique concerns.

Swimming is an activity that we all can enjoy. It is important that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn how to swim and enjoy this beneficial activity. Accidental drowning has been cited as a leading cause of death among African American children. Unfortunately, the legacy of segregated swimming pools contributes to the lack of access that African Americans have had to learn-to- swim programs and therefore attributes to the gap in drowning rates. In Richmond County you may contact First Health Richmond at 910-410-0123 , Browder Park at 910-895-6810, or Swim for Life at 910-206-6959, to inquire about opportunities to learn how to swim or swimming for physical activity.

To learn more information about health, nutrition, and incorporating physical activities into your daily routine contact Cheri Bennett at cheri_bennett@ncsu.edu .