By Mia Price
[4 minute read]
After being involved in swimming for over a decade, I may be a bit biased, but I truly believe that swimming is the best workout that anyone could do. Swimming offers a relaxing, serene workout, but can also push you to your physical limits. Swimming has helped me stay at my peak physical fitness level and has helped me feel happy and healthy every day. Here are the top 10 reasons swimming is the ultimate fitness activity:
1. To swim you have to use the majority of the muscles in your body
Swimming engages the entire body. To pull through the water you must use your arms and shoulders. To propel yourself through the water you use all of the muscles in your legs to kick. Your core stabilizes your body in the water and gives you the strength to breathe side to side. Swimming even gives your lungs a workout. On average, swimmers hold their breath three strokes at a time. Holding your breath builds lung capacity. All in all, swimming is a total body workout!
2. No swimming workout is the same
I have been a swimmer for fourteen years now. I began to swim competitively when I was four, and I got really serious about the sport when I was 11. Out of the thousands of practices that I have done, I have never repeated a workout once. With four different strokes, varying speeds, and varying distances the possibilities are endless. This means it is practically impossible to get bored of going to practice because you are always doing something different.
3. There is a lot of fun equipment- if you want to use it
Swimming can be the simplest sport if you want it to be. As the swimmer, you get to decide if you just want it to be you and the pool, or if you would like to enhance your workout with some fun equipment. This equipment can include kick-boards, fins, snorkels, pull buoys, and paddles. Kick-boards are used during kick sets to make kicking in the water slightly easier. Instead of having to kick on your back, stomach, or side, you can put the weight of your upper body onto a kick-board. Fins and paddles are used to make you swim faster. Fins are for your feet so you can kick faster; paddles are for your hands so you can pull faster. Pull buoys are used in pulling sets. Pull buoys are placed between your legs to inhibit your kick, so you can solely focus on your pull. Snorkels are my personal favorite. You strap a snorkel on your head and breathe through it so you can continuously breathe underwater as opposed to resurfacing to take a breath periodically.
4. Swimming is a sport for just about any age
As I already mentioned, I started swimming competitively when I was four, and I learned how to swim when I was three! Anyone can learn to swim at almost any age, and anyone can compete. There are different age groups and mastery levels of swimming that one can compete in! I have heard of 96-year-olds breaking records in their age group. It is a sport that can last a lifetime.
5. You can swim all year long, no matter the temperature or weather conditions
This might seem unrealistic because most think of swimming as a summer sport, but this is not the case. Obviously, a pool is easily accessible during the summer, but most towns also have a local aquatic center with an indoor pool. Also, most indoor pools are grounded, which means that if it thunders outside you can continue swimming in the pool. The only time I ever got out of a swim practice for my team that practices at an indoor pool was when there was a tornado warning. You can essentially always get in a workout!
6. Swimming is not only good for physical health but mental health too
Swimming works all of your muscles, but it also quiets your thoughts and eases anxiety. Whenever I had a really stressful day at school, I would always look forward to swim practice. While the practices were often really hard, it was two hours of my day that I could get relief from the stress and anxiety that high school gave me to just focus on completing my sets. I give swimming a lot of credit for keeping me sane through my rigorous years of high school.
7. Swimming burns a substantial amount of calories
According to the flaswim.com calorie calculator, I burn about 520 calories every hour I swim. That is a substantial amount of calories in an hour. Burning that many calories is not only great to stay in shape, but swimming also allows you to have the “swimmer’s appetite”. When I was training intensely each summer I would practice for six hours a day. If you calculate that, on average during the summer, I burned around 3,120 calories a day. This means that I ate around 5000 calories worth of food throughout the day, which is about five meals. For me, this would be two breakfasts (one before and after morning practice), lunch (after afternoon practice), and two dinners (one before and after evening practice). Who wouldn’t love to eat that much and not gain weight?
8. At the end of the day, you are not competing with anyone but yourself
There is no pressure from other people to complete a race by a certain time. While you do compete against other people, ultimately it is you against the clock. This can be beneficial because you do not rely on anyone but yourself. All of your training is for you, and it is one hundred percent worth it to spend hours upon hours of practicing to drop that one second because of how personal a goal time can become in swimming.
9. Swimming is not just a sport, but a social activity
Swimming is great because it pushes you physically, but you still have lots of fun doing it with your fellow swimmers. Some of my strongest friendships have been made in the pool. During the time spent on the wall between sets, even if it is thirty seconds, strong swimmer bonds are made with your teammates or workout partners.
10. A pool is the best place to be
There is nothing better than a swim after a long day. That is because of all the reasons previously listed, but most importantly, exercising in a pool is so cleansing for the body. Not necessarily cleansing in a physical way, but mentally and spiritually. The pool is so relaxing and calm. What practice really comes down to is you spending two hours in the water looking at a black line on the bottom of the pool. To some, this may sound boring, but it is because they have never experienced the deep focus that comes with a good swimming workout.
Swimming is the ultimate fitness activity. The benefits are numerous! My list could go on and on. If you have not tried swimming as a way to exercise, please do go out and try. You will not regret it! Even if you do not particularly enjoy the workout, you can at least treat yourself to a burger afterward!
Featured Image by Brian Matangelo on Unsplash
Mia Price is a recent graduate of the Marshall School of Business. Mia majored in Business Administration with a pre-medical emphasis. She is from Atlanta, Georgia and loves swimming, yoga, and Chick-fil-a. She is proficient in Spanish and has served as a Spanish translator in her school district back home and at a local LA clinic. She loves talking to people and gaining insight from a different cultural perspective.