Reasons to Keep Swimming Even When It’s Not Summer

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Last night I finished work and raced to the pool to get in a swim.  The time went by so fast.  I was just what I needed after a long day of seeing patients for physical and mental health needs.

I focused on each breath.  I paid attention to my body and what I noticed in different areas.  At times, I used long slow strokes and looked up at the ceiling as I was breathing in.  Other times I kicked hard and moved quicker.  Sometimes, I stretch out far and make myself long.  I love this.  I can feel my body rock in the water from side to side.  I take turns breathing from right to left three strokes at a time.  When I do my kick turn, I time my strokes to work out so I can flip and kick against the wall and stretch out again.  I love the feel of the air as I reach my arms up to go in front of me and reconnect with the water in front of me.  I love the sound of the water as I move through it.

When I got out of the pool, the life guard said, “You are the most graceful swimmer I’ve ever seen.”  I explained to her how I love to relax with swimming.  She shook her head and agreed.

For me this hasn’t always been my experience.  For many people who I speak with about swimming, they share why they “can’t” swim.  I used to be one of those people.  I had an experience in my first triathlon where people swam over top of me and I really didn’t appreciate the benefits of swimming too much after that.  I am so glad that I made myself swim consistently everyday until I developed the love for swimming that I have now.

There really are so many benefits to swimming.  I have seen people who were taking medication for diabetes come off of the medication after swimming on a daily basis.

Everyone has seen what the little boy with ADHD was able to accomplish in life through the consistency of training with swimming throughout the years.  Today he is the most decorated Olympian in history. (Michael Phelps)  michael phelps

For folks with joint pain, swimming offers a low impact means to move which helps reduce inflammation and pain.  When I swim, I can feel my muscles getting stronger.  It is a great way to tone a flabby body.

In addition to toning visible muscles like pectorals, triceps and quads, swimming also helps improve the most important muscle in our bodies: the heart.

Because swimming is an aerobic exercise, it serves to strengthen the heart, not only helping it to become larger, but making it more efficient in pumping, which leads to better blood flow throughout your body. Research also shows that aerobic exercise can combat the body’s inflammatory response as well — a key link in the chain that can lead to heart disease.

I also feel more flexible when I swim.  As I stretch out or flip turn, I practice moving in an almost weightless environment.

kid swimSwimming also provides the chance to work out in moist air, which can help reduce exercise-induced asthma symptoms.  According to a study published in the scholarly journal, Respirology, when a group of kids completed a six-week swimming program, they saw improvements in symptom severity, snoring, mouth-breathing, and hospitalizations and emergency room visits. What’s more, the health benefits were still apparent a year after the swimming program had ended.

Being healthy is more about having the right ratio of cholesterol in your body than just having low amounts of the stuff in your blood. Specifically, it’s beneficial to have higher levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

Swimming can get these levels in the right balance thanks to its aerobic power, which has been proven to raise HDL levels. And for every 1 percent increase in HDL cholesterol, the risk of dying from heart disease drops by 3.5 percent.

relaxAn obvious benefit is the product/use of endorphins aka our body’s own  “feel good” chemicals which help with stress reduction and overall mood.  This is due in large part to the constant stretching and relaxing of your muscles combined with deep rhythmic breathing. Swimming is also a meditative exercise, with the sound of your own breathing and the splash of the water acting in a pattern of sorts that can help you “drown out” all other distractions.

It may be worth your while to jump in the pool in and out of season.  Consider, adding swimming to your wellness regimen.

Contact us for more information to improve your wellness needs.

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