The health benefits of swimming

Swimming: the ideal exercise that’s suitable for everyone, whatever their ability. Here we take a look at the health benefits and why some people have taken swimming one step further.

Accessible to most, swimming is the ultimate exercise that is so beneficial for our bodies without putting pressure on our joints and can help us feel good too.

So what exactly are the health benefits of swimming?

There are numerous ways that swimming can boost health.  Here are just a few of them:

Swimming burns calories

Just 30 minutes of swimming can burn around 200 to 350 calories (depending on the stroke and how much effort you put in).  Did you know a fast front crawl can burn as many calories as an 8.5mph run?

Swimming versus working out on land

Research suggests that 30 minutes swimming can be worth 45 to 60 minutes or working out on land.  This is because water is 800 times denser than air so enabling you to work harder and burn more calories.

Swimming for all

Swimming is ideal exercise for people with disabilities, injuries or illnesses as 90% of your bodyweight is supported in water.  So for those suffering from conditions such as arthritis, it is the perfect form of exercise.

Swim for just 30 minutes a week

Research suggests that swimming for 30 minutes at least once a week can help us live longer. 

Swimming is good for our mental health

There are proven psychological benefits to swimming.  People who swim regularly show significantly less anxiety, depression and anger compared to before.  This may be due to the release of endorphins which are the body’s own ‘feel good’ hormones.  

Swimming works out the heart and lungs

Swimming increases the rate at which the blood circulates around the body leading to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Swimming can improve liver and kidney function

As exercise strengthens the heart, this in turn enables oxygen to circulate around the body and all the vital organs more efficiently.

Swimming improves muscles and strength

Swimming will tone muscles and help to make you stronger.

Open water swimming

There’s a recent growing trend for outdoor swimming which people say, along with improving fitness, greatly improves their mental health.  This claim, along with others, has been corroborated by, who also state that over a 12-week period, repeated cold swimming can lead to substantial bodily changes, including a fall in blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced fat disposition, inhibition of blood clotting and an increase in fertility and libido in both men and women.

The other benefit of taking a dip outdoors is that it’s free!  So if you’re tempted to join the band of hardy folk who regularly swim in ponds or lakes but don’t know how to start, then take a look at the open water section of or the Outdoor Swimming Society and they should be able to help you get started.

I can’t swim but want to learn

It’s never too late to learn to swim and you can find details from or just pop along to your local baths, where they should have an adult learn to swim class.

But even if you can’t swim you can still use hydrotherapy pools if you are suffering from joint pain.  These pools are kept at a constant 34°C to help with muscle relaxation and so help to ease pain.

Build up slowly

If you haven’t swum for a while then aim to swim only a length at first and then build up slowly.  In no time you’ll be swimming ten lengths each time you visit the pool and maybe even more!

Try entering a race

If you need motivation to help you train regularly then perhaps consider raising money by doing a sponsored swim, or even entering a race.  It doesn’t matter where you come or even if you don’t manage to finish – it’s all good exercise!

Have you started swimming late in life or have you tried open water swimming?  Please do comment below as we would love to hear from you.

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The more you know about your body and how you can look after it, the healthier you are – and the stronger and bolder you become. That’s why we never stop looking for ways to support your health. We want to give you the tools and knowledge you need to take care of yourself – so you’re ready to face whatever the world brings.

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