Why You Should Swim As You Age
So, we’re aging by the second. What gives? Well, actually a lot.
As we age, we start noticing aches and pains that weren’t there before. We start feeling morning stiffness in our joints, forcing us to take it just a bit slower while getting up out of bed. All that is normal, of course.
It’s normal for us to get a little stiff in the mornings. It’s normal for recovery to take a bit longer. It’s normal for your joints to start to become a bit arthritic. After all, the longer we live, the more mileage we put on our bodies, the more wear and tear there will be. For those working laborious jobs, you’ll probably feel it sooner than others.
Now, I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but that is the reality we face. Are there ways to mitigate some of those aches and pains?
Exercise truly is the best medicine. It’s great for health, mood regulation, sleep, physique; and honestly, it just makes us feel darn good about ourselves.
But not all forms of exercise are created equal.
Activities and sports such as running and weight lifting are phenomenal forms of cardio-based and strength-based training. They focus on aerobic and anaerobic systems that tax different components of our cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal systems. However, these are high impact activities.
For those suffering from arthritic changes, solely participating in running and weight lifting may be unsustainable in the long term (though some form of consistent strength training is highly recommended in mitigating joint pain). Incorporating some form of low impact would be a great idea.
So, what’s so great about low impact activities?
Well first off, it’s low impact. This means there’s less compression going through your bones and joints when performing these particular activities. Some common low impact sports include cycling and swimming.
So, why swimming?
Swimming is awesome for various reasons:
It’s low impact. And you can’t get much lower than that. You’re literally weightless, floating in the water. Your joints won’t have to worry about sustaining your weight + gravity, especially when you’re horizontal in the water. Your body will thank you after a swim session. It’ll be like a breath of fresh air for your joints.
It’s a full body workout. Talk about working out some muscles you didn’t even know existed. The ones in your neck? Oh, you’ll feel it. You think you have strong deltoids? Think again. When you swim, you’ll learn to recruit muscles you wouldn’t normally recruit when running, weight lifting, cycling, or any other activity.
You grow your lung capacity. Like any other activity, you’ll likely need to learn proper breathing techniques to run, lift, cycle, etc. Unlike any other activity, you’ll need to learn proper breathing techniques, while submerged in water. Establishing and maintaining a breathing pattern (and performing it correctly) in order to swim takes skill, coordination, and an ability to combat the pressure of water pushing back onto your chest wall.
It improves heart health. Like all other muscles it works, your heart will definitely get a workout out of swimming. As a cardio-based exercise, the benefits of swimming can be seen in reduction in heart rate and improved blood pressure. Due to the positional differences in swimming versus other land-based aerobic activities, your heart also doesn’t have to fight gravity to pump blood throughout your body, making it slightly easier for your body to return blood back to your heart.
Although I’ve listed several reasons why you should incorporate swimming into your routine, these are only a few. As we age, we want to be strategic in the kind of workout routine we maintain. Diversifying your routine to include different modes of exercise can only make you a stronger athlete and human being.
If you ever have any questions about swimming, feel free to reach out. Also, if you’ve experienced or are currently experiencing any cardiovascular problems, such as chest pain, please consult your health care provider prior to starting new activities.
Otherwise, happy swimming!
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