How Regular Swimming Can Improve Your Fitness And Well-Being

Published: 08/04/2023 - 8:00 AM

When we were young, we may have looked forward to summer days full of swimming at the local pool, but swimming is a hobby most of us do less and less often as we get older. If you've never lost the love of swimming, that's amazing! However, if you are just recently getting your feet wet again — literally — we've got some health benefits that will help encourage you to get back into the pool. 

Health Benefits of Swimming

Swimming is a fun way to get active, but it also provides a variety of health benefits. From boosting your physical health to improving your mood and brain power, learn more about how swimming can improve your fitness and well-being below.

Promotes Heart Health

Aerobic exercise like swimming helps boost heart health. Swimming is a cardio exercise, so it helps strengthen the heart and makes the heart work more efficiently. With a stronger heart, you'll have better circulation since the heart will more efficiently pump blood through the body. The stronger your heart functions, the better your body can receive nutrients and the less likely you are to develop heart disease. 

Strengthens Lungs

Your lungs are one of the biggest beneficiaries of swimming. Through swimming, you can improve your breathing and lung volume. In fact, swimming can be an excellent exercise for those with asthma. While studies have not conclusively determined swimming can decrease the severity or frequency of asthma, there is a lot of evidence that points to swimming as a beneficial exercise. From the horizontal position to the necessary breathing techniques, swimming is a great exercise for those with asthma. 

For both asthmatic and nonasthmatic swimmers, swimming and immersion underwater help improve lung function. Swimming can make lungs bigger and help them process air more efficiently. Plus, frequent swimming helps boost your breath endurance and lung capacity and strengthen your core as a whole. 

Boosts Brain Power

Exercise helps improve brain power, health and function. It boosts blood flow to the brain, and the increased blood flow and oxygen can support mental functioning, memory and problem-solving. Regular exercise — whether swimming or something else — can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Interestingly enough, cognitive decline is two times more common in inactive adults than in those who were active in adulthood. 

Boosts Brain Power

Improves Mood

Most of us know that exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel better and happier. Swimming is no exception! As you swim, your body releases mood-boosting endorphins that also combat negative feelings like depression, stress and anxiety. 

Swimming is also an effective method for taking your mind off stressful thoughts and situations, which can help you feel more relaxed. Whether you opt for an intense workout or a leisurely swim, you can expect to feel happier and more relaxed when you hop out of the pool. 

Enhances Bone Health

Swimming can also improve your bone health and is often a favorite exercise of people with arthritis or osteoporosis. Swimming sometimes helps these individuals manage their pain and prevent symptoms from worsening. Swimming for three to six hours each week can help improve the bone mineral density of postmenopausal women, in particular. 

Low bone mass and low bone mineral density can lead to osteoporosis, so swimming regularly can help prevent individuals from developing the disease later in life. At the very least, it can possibly mitigate its effects. 

Burns Calories

While burning the most calories possible is not the ultimate signifier of fitness, many people use calories burned to track their progress. If measuring burned calories is a motivator for you, you'll be excited to know that swimming is an excellent way to burn calories. Just remember that much more goes into health and fitness than calories.

Just like any exercise, how many calories you burn while swimming will depend on a few different factors, including your weight, the intensity of the workout, the length of the workout and the length of any breaks you take. The Harvard Medical School has reported the average amount of calories burned while swimming for three different body weights to give a better understanding of just how many calories swimmers can burn. 

You can read the article for more information, but here's an overview:

  • 125 pounds: People who weigh 125 pounds burn around 180 calories during 30 minutes of recreational or low-intensity swimming and 300 calories during 30 minutes of intense swimming.
  • 155 pounds: People weighing 155 pounds burn an average of 216 calories during 30 minutes of low-intensity swimming and 360 calories during a half hour of intense swimming.
  • 185 pounds: People who weigh 185 pounds and spend 30 minutes swimming recreationally burn 252 calories on average, while those who engage in 30 minutes of intense swimming can burn 420 calories.

Remember, swimming works your entire body, so you could see changes in your body weight or look with consistent swimming.

Additional Benefits of Swimming

The health benefits of swimming are extremely important, but there are other factors that make swimming a beneficial pastime: 

  • It's fun: If you want to exercise more but are not a fan of traditional gym workouts, swimming could be the perfect solution. It's also an enjoyable group activity if you would prefer to take a class. All you need is to jump in and get moving — feel free to make up games or just swim laps.
  • It builds relationships: Unless you have access to a private pool, you'll likely need to use a public pool. Joining a public pool gives you the chance to meet new people and develop relationships with people in your community.
  • It's a year-round option: You can swim outdoors during the summertime and indoors in the wintertime. 
  • It's included in YMCA memberships: With a Y membership, you can enjoy access to indoor pools to get active and reap all of the benefits of swimming. Plus, with family plans, you can bring your entire crew along and get connected to a healthier lifestyle. 
Enjoy the YMCA Pool in the Greater Philadelphia Area

Enjoy the YMCA Pool in the Greater Philadelphia Area

Need a place to go swimming in the Greater Philadelphia Area? The Greater Philadelphia YMCA has got you covered! We offer world-class pools ready to use year-round. A Y membership also gives you so much more than pool access. You can take advantage of our swimming lessons for your little ones, and some branches offer swim teams for those looking to get serious about their swimming skills. 

Sign up for a YMCA membership today to access indoor pools at one of our branches.