For many years, I have been advising my friends and family to swim because besides it being a fun and challenging sport to engage in, swimming is therapy. Sometimes swimming’s therapeutic benefits are physical and other times they’re mental, but either way swimming is an excellent way to indulge in both.

As far as the physical, for those who may not favor or tolerate high impact sports due to joint pain or arthritis, swimming is a great alternative. Additionally, in times of injury swimming is a great way to stay in shape while avoiding high impact sports.  In terms of the mind, I have often found that in times of stress, swimming is as calming as a massage.

That being said, here are some overall therapeutic benefits that swimming can provide:

Low impact. Swimming gives us the ability to engage in an aerobic exercise sans the high impact on our bodies. When you’re in the water, your body becomes about 50% lighter. Yes really. For those who may be hurt or have a condition like arthritis, being in a pool allows them to move more freely without taxing their joints.

Water provides resistance. On average, water is a little over 10 times as dense as air so every movement in the pool is against resistance. For those who cannot use free weights, dumbbells or machines, swimming can help you work all of your muscle groups at the same time. Keeping in mind that weight training is key to health, swimming at the very least provides a decent alternative when traditional methods are not an option, or something you should restrain from such as when injured.

Helps mitigate arthritis pain. The CDC reports that scientific research has proven that water-based exercise actually improves the use of joints affected by arthritis, and decreases pain associated with arthritis.

Helps mitigate the risk of asthma. Believe it or not, swimming does a great job in working your lungs & making them stronger. This inadvertently increases your overall lung capacity over time, thus helping to decrease the risk of developing asthma.

It helps boost your mood and is a good stress reliever. Swimming is essentially a series of repetitive movements that forces you to focus on your breathing and how your body moves. When you are swimming, the only thing you can hear is your breathing and the sound of your body moving through the water. During my long swims, this combination of  repetitive sounds reminds me of the noise machine I keep on my bed side table to get me to sleep (Ironically, I have it set to play sound of beach.)  It helps me zone out, which relaxes both my mind and my body, and makes me feel almost Zen-like overall. No matter what my mood was getting into the pool, I am always in a better mood after I swim.

There are so many great reasons to swim and these are just a few. It is a sport that can have a positive impact on people of all ages, sizes and shapes and ultimately can lead to many health benefits. So, go ahead – jump in the pool and have fun splashing around!

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