Swimming can strengthen your muscles, joints, and bones, energize your cardio, and turn back the aging clock. Dive in for even more Health Reasons.
Swimming Makes You a Better Runner
By increasing your ability to take in and effectively use oxygen, swimming increases your endurance capacity like crazy. That's great news if you're hoping to complete your first half-marathon this year. It also means you can run faster mile after mile without getting winded. In a 2013 Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports study, swimmers who followed a controlled breathing technique (taking two breaths per pool length) improved their running economy by 6 percent after just 12 swim sessions. Air-fueled benefits aside, swimming trains your glutes and hamstrings, your core, and your shoulders—all of which are needed for improved running performances.
Swimming Benefits for Everyone
Whether you're recovering from an injury, pregnant (women have trained in the pool on their due dates), a new mom, or an Ironman competitor, swimming can give you a great workout (um, as long as you—you know—know how to swim). You control the pace, intensity, and what you get out of every session.
Swimming Slashes Major Stress
While exercise-induced endorphins will do wonders for your stress levels, getting in the water for your workout may have its own special brand of mood-boosting benefits. Being submerged in water dulls the amount of sensory information that bombards your body, helping to bring on feelings of calm, according to a study published in Pain Research & Management. Researchers found that regular flotation tank sessions were effective at relieving symptoms in patients suffering from conditions related to chronic stress. No wonder you love soaking in the bathtub.
Swimming Turns Back the Aging Clock
Regular swimmers are biologically 20 years younger than their driver's licenses say they are, according to research from Indiana University. Scientists say that, even up until your 70th birthday, swimming affects blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system health, cognitive functioning, muscle mass, and blood chemistry to be much more similar to that of your younger self.
Swimming Hits Under-Worked Muscles
You don't sit at your desk with your arms over your head. But when you're in the pool, your arms are all over the place, meaning you need to work your often-neglected lats, deltoids, and traps. And we know you aren't targeting those when you're on a bike or pounding the pavement. Plus, since so much of swimming is about staying balanced and level in the water (while both your arms and legs are moving, mind you), swimming helps you develop the deep stabilizing muscles in your core and lower back that women often miss.
Swimming Makes You Smarter
Blood flow to the brain increased by up to 14 percent when men submerged themselves in water up to their hearts, according to a Journal of Physiology study. Researchers believe water's pressure on the chest cavity may have something to do with it, and they are now studying whether water-based workouts improve blood flow to the brain better than do land-based ones.
Swimming Creates More Adventures
Want to hop off the back of a boat? Swim across the San Francisco Bay? Go snorkeling in the Bahamas? Win every game of Marco Polo? Mastering swimming will help you do all that. "Swimming's a life skill. It opens the doors to a lot of fun stuff."