As former Naval Special Warfare guys, we love the water (well, most do). Nothing beats a good open-water swim to burn calories, increase cardiovascular health, etc. As we're back in the pool (lakes, rivers, and Atlantic) training up for the annual NYC SEAL Swim, we wanted to share some thoughts on the benefits of swimming laps, also known as lap swimming.
Here are some of the benefits associated with swimming laps:
- Full-Body Workout: Swimming laps engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing a full-body workout. The resistance of the water challenges muscles throughout the body, including the arms, shoulders, back, core, hips, and legs. Regular lap swimming can help build strength, tone muscles, and improve muscle endurance.
- Low-Impact Exercise: Swimming is a low-impact activity that puts minimal stress on the joints compared to high-impact exercises like running or jumping. This makes swimming laps an excellent option for people with joint pain, arthritis, or other conditions that may limit their ability to engage in high-impact activities.
- Cardiovascular Fitness: Swimming laps is an effective aerobic exercise that elevates the heart rate and improves cardiovascular fitness. It helps strengthen the heart and lungs, enhancing their ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Regular lap swimming can improve endurance, increase lung capacity, and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Weight Management: Swimming laps can be an effective tool for weight management. It burns calories at a high rate due to muscle engagement and water resistance. The calorie burn varies based on stroke technique, intensity, and body composition. Swimming regularly and a balanced diet can contribute to weight loss or weight maintenance goals.
- Improved Flexibility and Range of Motion: The stretching and reaching motions involved in swimming strokes help improve the joints' flexibility and range of motion. Regular lap swimming can enhance joint mobility, reduce stiffness, and improve overall flexibility.
- Reduced Stress and Mental Well-being: Swimming is often considered a meditative and stress-relieving activity. The rhythmic nature of swimming, coupled with the buoyancy of the water, can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Additionally, swimming has been shown to release endorphins, the body's natural feel-good hormones, which can improve mood and overall mental well-being.
- Low Risk of Injury: Swimming laps in a properly maintained pool with lifeguards present offers a relatively low risk of injury compared to many other sports or activities. However, practicing proper swimming techniques, warming up before swimming, and being mindful of pool safety guidelines to minimize the risk of accidents are essential.
Sgt. Suds highly recommends swimming for exercise. It's a versatile activity that allows for progression as swimmers can gradually increase their distance, speed or incorporate different strokes. Consider a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.