Swimming is a unique form of exercise and one that has become increasingly popular in New Zealand as its health benefits have been more widely recognised. But what exactly are the health and fitness benefits of water-based exercise?
Swimming is a truly unique exercise proposition. While it can offer a similar level of cardiovascular intensity to traditional exercise, the buoyancy of the water means that bones and joints are less impacted. This makes it the perfect health and fitness option for everybody, from elite athletes to those with limited mobility.
In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at the science behind swimming to understand why it’s such a fantastic way to stay fit.
What are the major health benefits of swimming?
We all know exercise is good for us, but what is behind the ever-increasing popularity of swimming? What does this form of exercise offer that others don’t?
The major benefits of swimming stem from its key differentiator: the water. In all forms of dry exercise you not only need to perform the required movements – jogging, cycling, skipping, star jumps, push-ups and more – you need to fight gravity while you do it.
This can mean that traditional exercise simply isn’t possible for a large segment of the population: the elderly, the injured, the disabled and anyone with mobility issues. In fact, as any athlete who has spent hours pounding the pavement will tell you, relentless impact during exercise can affect even the fittest individuals.
This is why more and more people are choosing to do away with these impacts (and gravity) altogether.
The health benefits of regular swimming were comprehensively outlined in this 2017 report, which, amongst a wealth of other stats, pointed to the fact that:
- The low-impact nature of the exercise means that long-term swim training can improve cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance for almost every segment of the population, including children with asthma, pregnant women, and people with chronic and potentially debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis.
- Those who swim recreationally or competitively are 8x more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than those who don’t.
- Swimming regularly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by an incredible 41%, and the risk of all-cause mortality by 28%.
What happens to your body when you swim every day?
Swimming is one of those rare exercises that works every major muscle group of your body. Your arms, back, core and legs must work in concert to propel you forward, which means a number of things for your body.
- Fitness: A swim a day will have you feeling fitter, faster and stronger than you may have ever felt before. This low impact, highly aerobic form of fitness offers all the positives of exercise, without common negatives that stem from continuous impacts, like joint damage and shin splints.
- Health: Swimming can ensure you lead a longer and healthier life. As mentioned above, regular swimming can reduce instances of cardiovascular disease, and can even have positive effects on mental health.
- Aesthetics: There’s a reason those Olympic swimmers look so good in their racewear! By swimming every day you’ll lose fat, tone muscle, and perhaps even catch a bit of a tan (though it goes without saying that you should always be sun smart.)
Can swimming help to lose weight?
Losing excess weight is one of the most common reasons – if not the most common reason – to exercise. So does swimming, a comparatively gentle form of fitness, still have the potential to reduce your waistline? Happily science offers a clear answer to this question.
Aquatic exercise has been proven to elicit positive metabolic responses – the processes that underpin weight loss. As your metabolism increases, you begin to burn off excess fat that you might be carrying.
Even more surprisingly, simply sitting in warm water has been shown to be a calorie burning activity, albeit it burns a rather negligible amount. This does however mean that the heated water of a swim spa can further enhance the weight loss potential of swimming.
In many ways water-based exercise is the same exercise on dry land – the potential for weight loss is tied to the energy you expend, and you’re free to make your workout as intense or as gentle as you want.
Remember too that exercise is only half the equation. The number of calories you burn must exceed the number of calories you ingest, making diet every bit as important as activity.
Why choose a swim spa over a pool?
The reasons to incorporate swimming into your fitness routine are so compelling that it’s perhaps not a question of why, but how.
The ability to swim in your own backyard makes it so much more likely that you’ll commit to water-based fitness. Having a patch of water just steps from your back door means that you can have a quick swim before breakfast, straight after work or before bed. For a long time the only way to enjoy an at-home swim was with a traditional swimming pool or lap pool – but that’s no longer the case.
- Price: Not only is the sticker price of a traditional pool often higher than a swim spa, it also only tells part of the story. When you consider all the extra costs of a pool – excavation, installation, landscaping, fencing, water, maintenance and heating – a traditional pool will cost you far more in the long run.
- Space: As property prices rise, Kiwi backyards are getting smaller and smaller, meaning pools are becoming ever more exclusive items. The swim-in-place experience offered by an Endless Pools swim spa, however, fits into a compact package that needs just a few square metres of space.
- Time and effort: Between council permissions, excavation, installation and landscaping, installing a pool is hard work, and maintaining it can be a challenge too. A swim spa, meanwhile, can simply be set in place and filled up, while maintenance can be conducted in minutes!
- Year-round use: The ability to efficiently adjust the water to your ideal temperature means that a swim spa owner can use their machine all year round. Pools, meanwhile, tend to be covered up for the colder half of the year.
- Luxurious massage: All Endless Pools swim spas feature an array of massage jets that offer an opportunity to warm up before exercise, cool down after, or simply rest and relax after a long day.
- More exercise options: The exercise options offered by an Endless Pools swim spa extend far beyond swimming, thanks to a wealth of accessories including the Underwater Treadmill, Aquabike, rowing kit and resistance bands.
- Transportability: When you move house you are unable to take your pool with you – but you can take your fully transportable Endless Pools swim spa.
Swimming is the ideal exercise in so many ways, and in an Endless Pools swim spa you have a machine that brings the benefits of swimming to the masses.