Top 12 Benefits of Swimming for Your Health

The Top 12 Benefits of Swimming

Experts recommend that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Swimming is a superb way to exercise the entire body and cardiovascular system. An hour of swimming can burn almost as many calories as running, without the high impact on bones and joints.

Swimming is the fourth most popular activity in the United States. But why is it so favored? There are numerous benefits to swimming regularly. Read on to discover the advantages of swimming and how you can incorporate it into your routine.


1. Works Your Whole Body

One of the greatest advantages of swimming is that it engages the entire body, from head to toe. Swimming:

  • Increases your heart rate without stressing your body
  • Tones muscles
  • Builds strength
  • Enhances endurance

Different strokes can add variety to your workout, such as:

  • Breaststroke
  • Backstroke
  • Sidestroke
  • Butterfly
  • Freestyle

Each stroke targets different muscle groups, and the water provides gentle resistance. Regardless of the stroke, swimming involves most of your muscle groups to propel your body through the water.

2. Works Your Insides, Too

While your muscles benefit, so does your cardiovascular system. Swimming strengthens the heart and lungs. It’s so beneficial that research indicates it may even reduce the risk of death. Compared to inactive individuals, swimmers have about half the risk of death. Other studies suggest swimming can help lower blood pressure and control blood sugar.

3. Suitable for People with Injuries, Arthritis, and Other Conditions

Before starting any exercise program, it’s important to get your doctor’s approval. Swimming is a safe option for most people with:

  • Arthritis
  • Injury
  • Disability
  • Other conditions that make high-impact exercises difficult

Swimming may help reduce pain and improve recovery from injuries. A study showed that people with osteoarthritis experienced significant reductions in joint pain and stiffness and had less physical limitation after activities like swimming and cycling. The benefits were comparable between the two groups, suggesting swimming offers similar benefits to frequently prescribed land exercises.

4. Good Option for People with Asthma

The humid environment of indoor pools makes swimming an excellent activity for people with asthma. Breathing exercises associated with swimming, such as holding your breath, may help expand lung capacity and control breathing. However, some studies suggest that pool chemicals can increase asthma risk. Consult your doctor about the potential risks and consider using a saltwater pool instead of a chlorinated one.

5. Beneficial for People with MS

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) may also find swimming beneficial. Water buoyancy supports limbs during exercise and provides gentle resistance. A 20-week swimming program showed significant pain reduction for people with MS and improvements in fatigue, depression, and disability.

6. Burns Calories Efficiently

Swimming is a highly effective way to burn calories. A 160-pound person burns approximately 423 calories per hour swimming laps at a low or moderate pace, and up to 715 calories per hour at a vigorous pace. This is more than many other low-impact activities, such as walking or yoga.

7. Improves Your Sleep

Swimming can help you sleep better. A study on older adults with insomnia reported improved quality of life and sleep after regular aerobic exercise, including swimming. Swimming is accessible to a wide range of people, making it a good choice for older adults looking to enhance their sleep.

8. Boosts Your Mood

Exercise, including swimming, has been shown to boost mood. A small study found that people with dementia had improved mood after a 12-week aquatic program. Swimming and aquatic workouts can be psychologically beneficial for many people.

9. Helps Manage Stress

Swimming can be a powerful way to relieve stress. In a survey of swimmers, the number of people feeling stressed decreased significantly after swimming. Although more research is needed, these findings suggest swimming can quickly alleviate stress.

10. Safe During Pregnancy

Swimming offers wonderful rewards for pregnant women and their babies. Animal studies suggest that a mother’s swimming can positively alter brain development in offspring and protect against neurological issues. Pregnant women can safely swim during all three trimesters. Another study found no adverse effects of swimming in chlorinated pools during pregnancy and noted a lower risk of preterm labor and congenital defects.

11. Great for Kids

Kids need at least 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, and swimming is a fun way to achieve this. Children can take structured swimming lessons or enjoy unstructured swim time to stay active.

12. Affordable

Swimming can be an affordable exercise option. Many pools offer reasonable rates, and some public facilities provide free or sliding scale swim hours. Check with your employer or health insurance for possible fitness program reimbursements.

Getting Started

To begin swimming, find a nearby pool. Many gyms and community centers offer lap swimming and water aerobics classes. Start slowly and consider strength training to prepare your muscles. Moves like pull-ups, squats, and overhead presses can help.

Swim Lessons

If you’re new to swimming, lessons can be beneficial. Group or private lessons teach strokes, breathing techniques, and tips for a better workout. Check the U.S. Masters Swimming database for lessons near you.

Pool Etiquette

Observe pool etiquette, including using appropriate lanes for your pace and passing others on the left. Avoid creating waves and keep nails trimmed to prevent scratching other swimmers.

Risks and Safety

Swimming is safe for most people, but always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have medical conditions. Follow these swim safety tips:

  • Swim in designated areas, preferably supervised by lifeguards.
  • Bring a buddy if swimming without lifeguard supervision.
  • Consider swimming lessons if new to the sport.
  • Use sunscreen outdoors and avoid peak sun hours.
  • Stay hydrated, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Always supervise children near water and never let them swim alone.


Swimming offers a multitude of benefits for your body and mind. It’s a low-impact exercise suitable for various health conditions and stages of life. Once you’re comfortable, swim laps for 20 to 40 minutes at a moderate pace, staying hydrated and taking breaks as needed. Most importantly, enjoy the experience


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