Benefits of swimming for physical activity

If you have access to an indoor pool, swimming has many health benefits, especially for those with chronic conditions such as arthritis, asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

A woman in a swimming pool.

Many don’t think of swimming as a form of physical activity during the winter months, but if you have access to an indoor pool the health benefits of swimming are unmatched by almost any other sport! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), swimming is the second most popular sport activity in the United States. Swimming is not only fun, it provides many benefits:

  • Aerobic exercise with muscular toning and strengthening – swimming works the entire body, including the cardiovascular system, without putting increased stress on the body’s skeletal system, joints and muscles.
  • Helps people with chronic illnesses – regular water based exercise can have a positive effect on those who suffer from arthritis, asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Swimming helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible, increases lung volume, strengthens the heart and burns calories.
  • Improves mental health – exercise helps release feel-good chemicals in the brain called endorphins. The stretching and flexing of the muscles used while swimming can help the body relax, which in turn, can assist in decreasing anxiety and depression.
  • Appropriate for all ages – kids love spending time in the pool, but swimming isn’t just for children. Adults (young and old) who regularly swim are healthier than those who live a sedentary life.

If you’re not into traditional swimming, there are many other water based exercises that can have a positive effect on the body. Michigan State University Extension recommends the following:

  • Walking or running in water
  • Treading water
  • Using the walls of the pool or a kick board for kicking and doing leg lifts

For more information about the health benefits of swimming and water based exercise, check out the CDC benefits of swimming or

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