Swimming, whether breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke or butterfly, is possible all year round, but summer is the perfect time to do more. It is a sport with numerous benefits for our physical and mental health, and there are very few contraindications. Swimming can fight pain and some diseases, ward off excess weight…
Benefits on the muscles and bones
Swimming helps maintain and develop joint mobility while improving muscle tone as it is a complete sport that uses all the muscles in your body. Muscle tone is greatly improved thus relieving the joints, which is extremely beneficial for knee, back, and hip pain. It also reduces the risk of osteoarthritis. As it is low impact, it puts no strain on the bones, which is why swimming is suitable for everyone. It also helps preserve and improve bone health in premenopausal and menopausal women.
Benefits on the cardiovascular system
Swimming helps lower your resting heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow. Swimming on a regular basis increases the efficacy and strength of the heart, making lighter work for the heart during effort and at rest. This endurance sport uses all the upper and lower limbs and can decrease risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, it also uses the respiratory system.
Benefits on the mind
Swimming is a fun, improves self-esteem and stress management, and decreases anxiety. It helps to take your mind off things and relax; it is a moment of pleasure when you can leave your worries in the changing room for a while. Furthermore, physical exertion improves quality of sleep, which helps maintain psychological balance. Being weightless in water means all our muscles can relax so stress and tension give way to a state of well-being. Additionally, this sport causes the body to produce endorphins, hormones that act on the brain, the spinal cord, and the digestive system bringing a feeling of bliss.
Benefits on the risk of diabetes and excess weight
Swimming helps burn calories during exercise, improves metabolism and is, therefore, perfect for burning calories. Trained muscles can also burn calories at rest. This sport helps increase metabolism during and after exercise. Swimming contributes to weight loss and is important to maintain it. For diabetics, it improves glycemic control. Type 2 diabetes is due to excess weight and a lack of physical activity.
Benefits on edema and heavy legs
When swimming, the movement of the water rapidly shapes your figure and stimulates blood flow. Swimming on a regular basis will help you acquire a streamlined, shapely figure. This sport also improves venous return and blood flow and there is no water retention. The alternating muscle contraction and relaxation helps pump the blood in the legs, which explains why swimming is perfect for people with heavy legs or venous problems.
Article written by Dr Philippe Paillard
Specialist in orthopedic surgery and sports surgery, Dr. Philippe Paillard operates on patients with hip, knee, shoulder, elbow or ankle disorders or injuries.