When it comes to a full-body cardio workout, NOTHING can beat swimming! Jogging, running, walking, and cycling are all excellent for your lower body, and elliptical training can even work your upper body and core. Rowing is the only other type of cardio that hits every muscle in your body as effectively as swimming. But the breath work that is involved in swimming helps to enhance lung efficiency, making swimming the best of all the aerobic workouts.
Here are some of the benefits of swimming:
Engage your muscles — Your arms and legs have to do all the work of propelling you through the water. There’s no gravity to hold you up or forward motion to keep you going. It’s an endless struggle to keep moving forward through water, meaning your muscles get a great workout.
Burn fat — When swimming, your body runs out of muscular energy fairly quickly–making it more anaerobic than aerobic. You only have a few hundred calories’ worth of glucose in your bloodstream, and the exercise burns through Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) energy in no time. This forces your body to tap into fat stores, activating them to burn for energy. You’ll burn a lot more fat swimming than you would running or cycling, thanks to the fact that you end up using more fat stores for fuel.
More efficient — With swimming, you don’t need to do a resistance training workout AND a cardio workout. Swimming combines the two in one, making it one of the most efficient types of workouts. With just 20 to 40 minutes of swimming training, you can push your muscles hard while giving your heart and lungs an excellent workout.
Enhances running performance — Did you know that swimming can make you a better runner? When you swim, you only take a breath every four strokes. This means your body has a short amount of time to absorb oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide before your next breath. Basically, swimming forces your body to be more efficient at using the air you breathe. When you run, that efficiency will translate into better cardiovascular conditioning on the track or trail.
Easier on your joints — With most types of cardio, your joints sustain a good deal of impact. Cycling can be hard on your lower back and hips, while running/jogging is often hard on your knees. But swimming is a no-impact sport. Sure, there is a risk of developing repetitive motion strains or injuries, but proper swimming form will help to prevent that. Those with joint problems, arthritis, or limited mobility can push their bodies hard in the pool without risking joint damage.
Fights stress — Who can be stressed while floating in a nice, warm pool? When you are in the pool, the water reduces the amount of sensory information from your workout. You won’t hear sounds beyond your breathing and your swimming, and you’ll feel nothing but the water and the burning in your muscles. It’s a good way to release endorphins while reducing outside noise and stressors, thereby helping to calm and relax you.
Trains your entire body — You’d be amazed by how tired ALL your muscles will be after a good swimming workout. Resistance training will enable you to target certain muscle groups, but a lot of the smaller secondary muscles get left out of your daily workout. Not with swimming! Swimming hits those smaller muscles, including the ones that are most often ignored during your workouts. You’ll develop better stability and overall strength as a result of your swimming training.