Why Swimming Is a Top-Three Cardio Exercise

New pools

Some raw statistics to start this show off:

  • Swimming is the 4th most popular sport or activity in America
  • Swimming is the most popular recreational activity for children and teens ages 7-17 in America
  • The average person swims in a pool six times per year

That got your attention, didn’t it? Pools are extremely popular. In the summer months, people flock to them, drawn in by the promise of cooler temperatures and an opportunity to relax on a hot summer day. More importantly, swimming is a great opportunity for families and friends to get together. This happens at community pools, backyard pools, and new pools alike.

According to a recent study, there are 10.6 million pools in America. 50.6^ of pools are in-ground pools, while 47% of pools are above ground pools. 85% of swimming pools use chlorine to sanitize, while 12% of swimming pools are salt water pools. 38% of in-ground pools have diving boards.

The ability to lounge out on a hot summer day, by the pool, get a nice tan, spend time with family and friends, is one of the best aspects of having a pool. They are good meeting places for parties, for neighborhood get-togethers, and for family reunions.

But, the best thing about pools? Exercise.

Swimming is known, and scientifically proven, to be one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise.

Yes, it burns a lot of calories–around 650 for an hour of vigorous swimming–but it’s the ability to allow for a heart-pumping exercise, with little impact on the joint, and using the full body that gives it the reputation as one of the best.

Let’s take a look at the impact on the body that swimming has, whether you are just a beginner or an expert.

Swimming gets your heart rate up. Often, you can reach the best “heart zone” through swimming, if you are continuous in your laps. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. This is the maximum you can reach. Your target heart zone should be 70%-80% of that number.

To track your heart rate, place two fingers on either your wrist or the area where your throat meats your jaw and count the number of beats within ten seconds. Multiply that by six and you have your heart rate.

Swimming influences your respiratory system. While all cardio does this, swimming exemplifies the need to breath heavily and quickly. Short, deep breaths engage your lungs and respiratory system, which cause it to adapt to a different breathing style. Swimming helps train your lungs to gasp for air and hold the breath.

The challenge in swimming is holding that breath enough to make it to the next strokes. Getting in the habit of going up for air helps to increase the amount you can swim, and improves your respiratory system as well.

Swimming engages all parts of the body. Think about the last time you swam: What did it feel like? Was there a part of your body that wasn’t moving?

Swimming engages your entire body. That means your arms, including your forearms and upper arms, your legs, including your hamstrings, quads, thighs and calves, your core, including your abs and obliques, and your shoulders and neck.

Your arms and legs are needed for each stroke. Your core is needed to stabilize you in the water. Your shoulders and neck provide additional support or power. This is what makes swimming such a great cardiovascular workout: All muscles are engaged.

But even though all your muscles are engaged, your body does not feel the impact of the workout. By impact, think about a runner: They’re moving up and down, their body landing with a thud on the material each time, their joints suffering from the increased force. It’s an easy way to develop injuries. Think about the term ‘runner’s knee.’

Because water allows for buoyancy while swimming, the joints of a swimmer don’t suffer the impact seen in other cardiovascular exercises. They are cushioned. This makes swimming a great exercise for those suffering from some kind of joint related pain. This includes arthritis, osteoporosis, and other conditions.

Swimming is a great opportunity for all ages to gain exercise, enjoy time spent with family and friends, and to receive a reprieve from the hotter weather of the summer months.

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