Is swimming really the best workout for you? Swimming as a form of exercise has many advantages. Whether or not swimming is the best workout for your particular body depends on your unique needs and preferences.
The Benefits of Swimming
One of the often repeated comments about swimming is that it exercises your entire body. The truth of this really depends on how you approach swimming. It is possible to get in a pool and swim on your back without exerting much energy at all. However, if you are swimming laps using a stroke such as the front crawl or the breast stroke, you will use the muscles of your legs, arms, shoulders, buttocks and more.
If you are swimming at a fast pace, racing others for example, or racing against your personal best, you will experience the cardiovascular benefits of swimming. Your heart will work harder and faster to generate energy. Your lungs will also strengthen as you breathe more quickly and intensely.
Swimming is an ideal form of exercise if you are dealing with injuries. For example, if you are a runner and your knees can no longer endure the impact of running, swimming will be a more manageable way to get your daily exercise.
You can also use swimming to warm up and cool down before or after running, cycling or another form of fitness activity. Swimming allows you to gradually increase your heart rate, increase your blood circulation and warm up your muscles. You can also isolate particular muscles in swimming. For example, you may want to hang on to the edge of the pool and only kick your legs. You could lie on a flutter board and move only your arms.
As a form of exercise, swimming can be very meditative. It may be very soothing and relaxing for you to swim laps at a leisurely speed or float on your back and look at the sky.
The Limitations of Swimming
If your goal is to bulk up and build larger muscles, swimming may not be your ideal form of exercise. You will need to lift weights to increase bulk. Additionally, if your goal is to strengthen your bones, you will need to do weight training or similar weight bearing exercise.
Swimming intensely does burn off many calories. However, when you swim, you burn off calories while in the water. The work of calorie burning slows and quickly stops after you stop swimming. This is in contrast to other types of exercise where your body continues to burn calories while it returns your body temperature to normal.
All in all, swimming is a great workout for your body. It works your lungs, heart and the muscles of your entire body. It is not the ideal activity if your goal is to bulk up or strengthen your bones. It is, however, a fun fitness activity that you can do alone or with others. You may also enjoy the meditative aspect of exercising in water.