You've no doubt heard that swimming is good exercise, but do you know just how good it is for you?
29 JUNE 2010
Swimming is the perfect summer sport: when the mercury rises, what better way to cool off than to take a refreshing dip? It doesn't matter whether it's at the beach, river or pool, the long sunny days are a perfect excuse to take to the water. But swimming isn't just fun and a great way to cool down, it's also very good for your health, and while you're splashing about, you're actually doing wonders for your body. Take a look at some of the reasons why swimming might be considered the best sport:
The buoyancy of the water counteracts the force of gravity, making swimming a perfect low-impact sport that puts little stress on bones and joints.
If you swim for at least 20 minutes straight, keeping up a constant rhythm and speed, it is an aerobic exercise, which helps improve general fitness, stimulates the metabolism and burns fat.
The fact that it's an aerobic exercise also means it improves cardiopulmonary capacity, while the effort needed to overcome water resistance tones muscles.
It's a great way to burn calories: an hour of swimming burns 500 calories.
Our body's natural position is upright, but when we swim, we turn it horizontal; this helps move respiratory secretions, and improves breathing.
Swimming has been shown to be beneficial for asthma sufferers, as it encourages lung function and breathing control.
Swimming balances blood pressure and normalises pulse rate.
It works the body's motor coordination. Over two thirds of the body musculature is worked when we swim, including both the lower and upper body, trunk and head, and arms and legs are forced to make a balanced effort.
Swimming also strengthens joints and improves posture by improving the position of the spinal column. This makes it an excellent exercise for people with back problems.
Last, but not least: anyone can do it. You don't have to be a great athlete for swimming to be beneficial – and fun, too – so come on in: the water's lovely!