Swimming can help a person manage or lose weight, build strength, and improve breathing control. The benefits of swimming may also extend to mental health.

People who are 19–64 years of age should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Younger children should be physically active as well.

It is important to incorporate strength training exercises into any routine to keep the muscles strong and flexible. As a person’s health permits, they should continue this for as long as possible throughout life.

A person may choose swimming over another form of exercise for a range of reasons. It gives the body a thorough workout and has many advantages for people of all ages and fitness levels.

The sections below list some other benefits of swimming.

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Swimming engages almost every major muscle group, requiring a person to use their arms, legs, torso, and stomach.

Swimming also:

  • increases heart rate without putting stress on the body
  • improves strength
  • tones muscles
  • enhances fitness
  • helps manage weight

Cardiovascular, or cardio, exercise involves the heart, lungs, and circulatory system. A thorough workout routine, such as one that features swimming, will include this type of exercise.

One study notes that “after adjustment for age, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake, and family history of cardiovascular disease, swimmers had 53%, 50%, and 49% lower all-cause mortality risk than did men who were sedentary, walkers, or runners, respectively.”

A different study, from 2016, indicates that swimming can help lower blood pressure. Fifteen overweight adult males participated in this study, completing 8 weeks of swimming training and 4 weeks of detraining.

Some types of exercise may be challenging for people who are new to it or who feel very unfit.

However, swimming allows a person to go at their own pace, and it can be inviting for newcomers to exercise.

A person can learn to swim at a very young age, and most swimming pools have a designated area for beginners and people who prefer to swim slowly.

Swimming does not put excess strain on a person’s joints. So, a person with arthritis or a joint injury may find swimming a suitable exercise, as the buoyancy of water reduces stress on weight bearing joints.

A person with an injury or condition such as arthritis may find it difficult to do high impact exercise.

People who cannot take part in high impact, high resistance exercises may prefer swimming because the water gently supports the muscles.

Having a physical disability such as paraplegia can limit or eliminate some workout options.

People with a physical disability may find that swimming is an ideal exercise because water provides resistance and support.

In addition to building cardiovascular strength, swimming can help increase lung capacity and improve breathing control.

Although the humid air of indoor pools may also help improve asthma symptoms, it is important to note that some studies indicate that disinfectant chemicals used in pools can make the symptoms of this condition worse. These chemicals may also increase the likelihood of a swimmer developing the condition.

Water keeps the limbs buoyant, so people with multiple sclerosis (MS) may benefit from the support and gentle resistance that water provides.

One 2012 study in Spain found a significant reduction in pain when people with MS, aged 18–75 years, took part in a 20-week swimming program.

The participants also reported improvements in MS-related fatigue and depression.

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Swimming is a recommended form of exercise for pregnant people.

Added weight can cause joint and muscle pain during pregnancy. Swimming is especially popular with pregnant people because the water can support this weight.

However, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor when trying a new form of activity during pregnancy.

Swimming is an excellent way to burn calories. However, the amount of calories burned depends on a person’s weight and how vigorously they swim.

A person can use this calculation to determine how many calories they burn while working out:

Total calories burned = duration (in minutes) x (MET x 3.5 x weight in kilograms) / 200

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MET stands for metabolic equivalent of a task.

One 2016 study involving 62 untrained premenopausal women found that swimming three times per week improved glucose (sugar) control and insulin sensitivity.

The study found that low volume, high intensity intermittent swimming was more beneficial than swimming at low intensity for 1 hour.

A 2010 study involving 17 sedentary adults with insomnia, who had a mean age of 61.6 years, found improved sleep among those who exercised regularly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one-third of adults in the United States do not get enough sleep. If accessible, swimming may benefit those who seek better sleep.

Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood.

A 2014 pilot study involving people with dementia found that those who swam regularly in a 12-week period showed an improvement in mood.

The study took place in Queensland, Australia. The participants had a median age of 88.4 years, and the cohort consisted of 10 women and one man.

Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.

Aerobic exercise may elevate and stabilize mood and reduce tension overall.

A 2014 study in rats found that swimming could help reduce stress-induced depression.

A 2016 study involving 20 young adult men found that swimming could be good for the heart.

Participants in the study engaged in moderate intensity swimming training for 8 weeks. The researchers found that the training had beneficial effects on blood pressure and the walls of the heart.

Swimming burns calories and can help people manage their weight, tone their muscles, and improve their overall health and fitness.

This activity engages several different muscle groups and the cardiovascular system, and it can provide an excellent workout for a wide variety of individuals.

Swimming may help some people elevate their mood, relax, and reduce their stress levels.