Swimming is an easy, fun, beneficial and life-long activity anyone can perform! It is full of good and beneficial things for young and old, for healthy people and for those with disabilities. It builds strength, endurance and muscle tone. It’s an activity that you can do all year long, inside or outside, burning lots of calories.
Swimming is consistently among top public recreational activities, and, in some countries, swimming lessons are a compulsory part of the educational curriculum.
Human babies demonstrate an innate swimming or diving reflex from newborn until the age of approximately 6 months: babies immersed in water spontaneously hold their breath, slow their heart rate, and reduce blood circulation to the extremities (fingers and toes).
Many swimmers swim for recreation, with swimming consistently ranking as one of the physical activities people are most likely to take part in. Recreational swimming can also be used for exercise, relaxation or rehabilitation. The support of the water, and the reduction in impact, makes swimming very suitable for people who are unable to undertake activities such as running.
Swimming and Health
Swimming is primarily a cardiovascular/aerobic exercise due to the long exercise time, requiring a constant oxygen supply to the muscles, except for short sprints where the muscles work anaerobically. As with most aerobic exercise, swimming is believed to reduce the harmful effects of stress. Swimming is also effective in improving health for people with cardiovascular problems and chronic illnesses. It has been proven positively to impact the mental health of pregnant women and mothers. Swimming can even improve mood. I am sure this is the fact that many of us have felt and would be able to describe in many different ways. My personal feeling is a sensation of a good massage and a positive connection with the space around me.
Water is a great equalizer. It supports body weight, and with proper flotation devices, almost anyone can exercise in the water no matter what the physical disability. Water-based exercise can benefit older adults by improving quality of life and decreasing disability. It also may help to maintain or improve the bone health of post-menopausal women.
With so many benefits connected with swimming we can only recomend it to you, not just during the summer months but all year around. We are certain that many of you do it anyway, either as part of your rehabilitation and relaxation times or for recreation and distraction of daily pressures.
There is another interesting topic connected with swimming – the all year around outdoor swimming. Cold and outdoor swimming in general are on the rise in many countries. But, I would leave that discussion for another time.