8 Reasons To Start Swimming



1. Swimming is easy on the lower limb joints.


When you’re in a swimming pool the water can support 90% of your body weight. If you’re injured, disabled, pregnant or overweight swimming is a comfortable and low impact way of exercising.


If your usual exercise routine is taking long walks or running, swimming will help give your knees, hips and ankles a break. When your foot hits the pavement your knee takes the force of one and a half times your body weight. If you’re a swimmer you can work out more regularly and for longer because of the weightlessness the water gives your body.


2. Swimming allows for less painful movements.


If you’re finding even the smallest movements excruciating, you may discover the pain is less when you get in the pool. Because the water supports your body, pain is reduced. When you’re in less pain you can focus on exercising and building up muscle around your injury or painful joint, as well as encouraging flexibility. This is why swimming is recommended for those who are recovering from injury, have arthritis or lumbar back pain.


Swimming can prevent arthritis developing because it helps to retain normal joint structure. So even if arthritis is something you’ve only recently been diagnosed with, swimming can help stop it from getting worse.


3. Swimming helps depression and anxiety.


Any kind of aerobic exercise can improve anxiety and depression. When you exercise your body releases chemicals and hormones that encourage higher mood and lower anxiety. It’s even been shown that these hormones can help people recover from addiction. Swimming is particularly good for depression and anxiety because of it’s calming and repetitive nature. Many swimmers find that it stills the mind and relaxes them. There is no road traffic to worry about, no phone to distract you and a clear lane means that all you have to focus on is yourself.

4. The water density makes for a harder workout.


Water is about 800 times denser than air and so there is much more resistance on every movement you make in a pool. You can work harder and burn more calories in water. If you are someone who finds movement very difficult because of pain or a disability, simply getting into the water and moving around in whatever way you can will help you build muscle and increase flexibility. Some swimming centers in Sheffield offer quiet adult swimming sessions for people with disabilities or difficulties moving. You could even try an aqua aerobics class which are usually tailored for differing abilities.


Running or walking in water has long been recognised as an excellent way to help injured athletes recover. The water resistance will work your muscles harder than if you run on land.


5. Activate different muscle groups.


Even if you mix up your cardio and strength workouts in the gym, you can still end up neglecting certain muscle groups. Swimming is an all rounder, while your upper body does most of the work, there are many muscles that get used. To make sure as many different as muscles as possible are at work, mix up your swimming stokes. Alternate between breast stroke, front crawl, butterfly and back stroke in your laps. Because so many muscles get used when you swim, it’s excellent for people who wish to build over all strength, including core strength. If you’re somebody who is doing weight training, or doing a cardio exercise that builds up a specific muscle group – like cycling, then swimming will help balance out your physique. Swimming builds long, lean muscles and will compliment the denser muscles you get from weight training nicely.


6. Swimming is good for your heart.


Cardio can help reduce your blood pressure by strengthening your heart, lowering cholesterol and improving your blood vessel health. When you’re swimming, your heart rate is 10-15 beats per minute lower than when you’re running on land. This is because of a mixture of factors. When you’re horizontal, it’s easier for your heart to pump more blood around your body. When you’re swimming the water pressure restricts your blood vessels and helps the blood get pumped back to the heart quicker.


Because of this lower heart rate, your body can work hard without making your heart go into overdrive. This is one reason why doctors often recommend swimming as a perfect exercise for people with heart problems.


7. Swimming is good for your lungs.


Any kind of cardio exercise increases lung capacity, but swimming is especially beneficial because we have to regulate our breathing much more when swimming. We take deeper and more regulated breaths as we move, to prevent inhaling any water! As we age our lung capacity decreases, so swimming will certainly help slow down this process.


8. Swimming burns calories.


Swimming is a good option for those who wish to lose a bit of weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis or joint injuries, even losing a few pounds can help you decrease your risk of getting knee, foot or ankle problems. While the swimmers heart rate stays lower than the runners and they travel slower, the swimmer burns roughly 25 times more calories than the runner. Bare in mind if you wish to lose weight you must stick to a balanced, healthy diet even if you’re burning many calories! If you’re trying to decrease body fat but increase muscle, swimming will be a good way of achieving this, just make sure you’re eating enough calories and protein so that you can still gain.


It’s important to remember that although swimming is great because it’s a low impact exercise, it won’t do much for your bone health. Weight bearing, or high impact exercises actually help your bone density. We recommend you mix swimming with another type of exercise, if bone health is a concern for you cycling or rowing machines are easy on the muscles and joints but still improve bone density. You could also try weight lifting, it’s not just beneficial for body builders and you will not necessarily ‘bulk up’!

If you have a current injury and want to know more about how swimming can help you rehabilitate, then we can discuss with you the best training program to help you recover, without exacerbating your pain. Call 0114 268 6677 or email info@sheffieldphysiotherapy.co.uk for more information.

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The Author

Lewis Payne

Lewis graduated from The University of Nottingham in 2013 with a First Class Honours in Physiotherapy, worked as Sheffield F.C.’s first team Physiotherapist, and now runs a leading-edge private clinic in Sheffield. With over ten years of experience, he specialises in manual therapy, advanced technological treatments, and exercise-based approaches, focusing on spinal and joint conditions, sports injuries, and specifically complex spinal issues like disc pathology and scoliosis. Lewis leads in IDD Therapy, performing over 6000 treatments, offers MRI referrals and reviews, and employs a holistic treatment philosophy viewing the body as a Tensegrity structure. He excels in postural analysis, soft tissue release techniques, and prescribes biomechanical corrective exercises to enhance natural movement.