Swimming training is a good cardio workout that increases your heart rate without putting too much pressure on your joints. It also increases your lung capacity and strengthens your muscles. You can enjoy swimming at your local pool or in natural bodies of water if you have them nearby.
Swimming is an excellent, low-impact option for a cardio workout. It is easy on your joints, improves your cardiovascular fitness and is a full-body strengthening form of exercise.
Cardiovascular Benefits of Swimming
Swimming raises your heart rate, increases your circulation and strengthens the heart muscle. Unlike land-based forms of cardio, when you swim, your body is nearly horizontal in the water. This allows more of your blood to move back to your heart rather than pooling in your legs, advises Harvard Health Publishing.
Like other forms of cardio exercise, swimming can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It also helps improve sleep and cognition.
Swimming for Cardio vs. Running
Swimming and running burn roughly the same number of calories, advises Harvard Health Publishing. Like swimming, running is an excellent cardiovascular activity, but it does place a lot of pressure on your joints. If you have any injuries or a condition such as arthritis, swimming is a good alternative for cardio and strength training.
While swimming does take the pressure off your bones and joints, you do need some pressure to maintain bone strength and health. Running is a weight-bearing activity that helps build bones, but if it's too hard on your joints, you can also supplement swimming with other activities such as weight training or walking.
Other Benefits of Swimming
Swimming is also an excellent strength-building activity because of the resistance it offers as you move through the water. Bucknell University advises that water provides up to 14 percent more resistance for your muscles than movements out of the water. The same resistance prevents sudden, jerky movements, which reduces the possibility of injury.
Psychological benefits of swimming include reduced levels of stress and anxiety and greater energy levels. Swimming is fun and offers an opportunity to meet new people in the swimming community.
Invest in a good pair of goggles. This will prevent eye irritation from the chlorine or salt in the pool and make your workout more enjoyable.
Swimming Cardio Workouts for Beginners
Harvard Health Publishing recommends that new swimmers start by swimming for just five to 10 minutes. Walking or running in the pool is a good alternative to laps, especially if your arms tire but you want to continue your workout. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. Slowly increase the time and intensity of your swimming to reach that goal.
Swim in a safe environment and don't swim alone, especially if you're swimming in a lake or in the ocean. Take breaks and don't get overtired, especially when swimming in deep water. As with any other type of workout, remember to drink water and stay hydrated.
Take swimming lessons before starting a swimming training program if you don't know how to swim or aren't confident in your technique.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Exercising in Water: Big Heart Benefits and Little Downside"
- Bucknell University: "Swimming Information"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Take the Plunge: Try a Water Workout"
- American Heart Association: "American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids"