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Justin Quaintance

Try swimming for a solid low-impact workout

By Tommy Osborne, March 14 2017 —

Swimming can be one of the most rewarding ways to exercise and a quick glance will show you that the University of Calgary campus pool is never as busy as the gym. While there is nothing wrong with working out  at the gym, here are four reasons why you should give swimming a try.

Swimming is a total body workout:

Unlike most cardio workouts, swimming works out your whole body. While running and cycling only provide a workout for your legs, swimming can work out your legs, core and upper body. Depending on what strokes you choose, you could work a variety of muscles in one swimming session. The front crawl is an excellent workout for your arm and back muscles — specifically the deltoids, triceps and biceps. On the other hand, breaststroke is great for the pectoral chest muscles and the trapezius muscles in your back. While you may not feel much happening in your core, it must work to keep your body balanced in the water. Finally, your legs are always
kicking, giving them a great workout as well. Personally, I like to alternate between front crawl and breaststroke when I swim, so that all my main muscle groups are getting a good workout.

Swimming promotes joint health:

Your joints don’t suffer a lot of impact from swimming like they do on a long run. Swimming is especially great for your knees, since weight is not placed on your legs during a swim. The United States Water Fitness Association says that 90 per cent of your body is buoyant, giving your joints a rest. And according to the University of Nevada School of Medicine, moving your knee while kicking is good for the fluid that cushions your knee and it also promotes muscle strength. Give swimming a try — your joints will thank you.

Swimming is therapeutic:

Swimming is an activity where you can tune out all the distractions of the world and just focus on your swim. For the most part, the only sounds you will hear are your breathing and the sound of your body gliding through the water. It can be a very relaxing experience, which is great for students who have to endure the hustle and bustle of everyday university life. According to swimming.org, swimming for half an hour three times a week can lower stress levels, improve mood, lower incidences of depression and anxiety and improve sleep patterns. On top of being an excellent workout, it can be a very calming experience.

Swimming is good for heart health:

When swimming, oxygen isn’t as readily available, so your lungs will be sucking in as much air as possible. Because of this, your maximum oxygen uptake will increase with training. Swimming for 30 minutes three times a week for six months can increase VO2 max — our maximum oxygen uptake — by 15–20 per cent. Your lungs will also be able to use oxygen more efficiently. On top of all this, livestrong.com notes that swimming will slow down your heart rate and also improve your blood pressure, reducing the likelihood of heart issues in the future.

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