Swimming laps as a form of physical activity is one of the best ways to reap various physical and mental health benefits. When swimming laps, most pools are divided into lanes to help offer a controlled space for people of all fitness levels to stay healthy and active while enjoying a low-impact workout. Although swimming is a simple exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels, there are many physical and mental benefits.
We've put together a list of the top benefits of swimming. Let's dive in!
Lap Swimming Benefits
- Burns calories and helps with weight loss
- Builds muscle strength
- Increases lung capacity
- Lowers blood pressure & reduces the risk of disease
- Reduces stress & improves mental health
- Improves sleep patterns
- Develop new skills
- Easy on the joints
- Meet new people and build a community
1. Burns calories and helps with weight loss
As we age, our metabolism slows down, and it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy weight. What you eat and drink each day contains energy in the form of calories; to maintain a healthy weight, you must balance your energy intake versus your energy output.
Swimming is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. The total calories burned during a swimming workout will depend on your weight, the type of strokes performed, and workout duration; however, swimming burns an average of 340 calories during a 30-minute workout.
Look for a swimming exercise program, such as our Workouts, that fits your goals, skills, and ability. Swimming regularly ensures that you get a full-body, low-impact workout that will help to keep you healthy and fit.
2. Builds muscle strength
Maintaining a healthy muscle mass has many health benefits. Not only does it impact your strength and energy and help prevent injury, but it also boosts your resting metabolism, allowing your body to burn more calories.
Swimming is a great workout that engages your core, legs, and upper body simultaneously. This full-body workout uses all of your major muscle groups, which helps to strengthen your entire body and build muscular strength in one water-based exercise.
While strength training is superior for building muscle, swimming has many of the same benefits because it utilizes your main muscle groups.
3. Increases lung capacity
After the age of 35, your lung function declines as you age. By age 65, you've lost up to a liter of lung capacity compared to your younger self. The lungs provide oxygen to every cell in your body, which is essential for survival. Lower lung capacity means a risk of ailments such as heart attacks or strokes, fatigue, and weakened digestive and metabolic functions.
Swimming can help increase the size of your lungs, making them more efficient in how they process the air you breathe. This elevated level of efficiency increases your lung capacity and breath endurance so you can take those deep and calming big breaths. A higher lung capacity has benefits such as improved performance during physical activities, easier breathing at higher altitudes, and prevents physical ailments previously mentioned.
4. Lowers blood pressure & reduces the risk of disease
Nearly half of the adults living in America have hypertension (high blood pressure) or are taking medication for hypertension. High blood pressure is a condition that makes the heart work harder than usual to pump blood to the rest of the body.
High blood pressure leads to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease includes a range of conditions such as arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, heart infections, and more. High blood pressure and heart disease can result in heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, heart failure, and more if left untreated.
Heart disease and high blood pressure can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices—including incorporating aerobic exercise such as swimming into a daily or weekly routine.
Swimming three times a week at a mild to moderate intensity improves circulation and strengthens the heart. A strong heart can pump more blood with less effort, which leads to better blood flow throughout your whole body. Maintaining a lower blood pressure also keeps the layer of cells lining your arteries flexible and in good condition.
5. Reduces stress & improves mental health
We all know stress is bad for us and contributes to many health issues—both physical and mental.
While stress is a normal part of life, too much negative stress can lead to physical symptoms like headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, and more. Stress can also manifest into mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Stress is so prevalent in society that more than 75% of Americans report feeling symptoms of stress.
One of the most significant benefits of swimming is that it lowers stress levels and improves mental health.
If you've swum laps before, you know the calming and meditative state it can provide. Swimming has been shown to lower incidences of depression and anxiety because it releases endorphins, the "feel-good hormones" that lead to a greater sense of happiness and well-being. This type of mental well-being sets people up for success and provides them with the tools to adopt healthy habits and maintain them.
6. Improves sleep patterns
The average person spends one-third of their life sleeping. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night lowers the risk of developing chronic conditions, which could reduce life expectancy.
When we sleep, our cells produce the most growth hormones delivered to bones and muscles, which helps the body repair itself.
Moderate to vigorous swimming increases energy levels and alertness during the day and improves sleep quality by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep. This decreases the need for sleep medications or melatonin to help us get to sleep and stay asleep.
7. Develop new skills
Swimming is one of the most beneficial basic skills to have. It allows you the freedom to safely and confidently explore new areas and go on new adventures. Yet more than half of all Americans can't swim or perform basic swim safety skills.
If you want to start swimming, start with laps in a pool to develop your technique. Technique improvements transfer to outdoor swimming in lakes, rivers, and oceans and may even open doors for new skills like surfing, paddle boarding, kite surfing, boating, and more.
If you only know how to perform a back crawl, consider speaking with a lifeguard or swim instructor for instruction on other strokes. Even YouTube has helpful videos to help you learn how to perform various strokes. Pushing yourself to learn new movements is an excellent challenge for the body and the mind.
8. Easy on the joints
Because water gives you buoyancy, swimming is a lower impact exercise, which means it's easier on the joints and reduces pressure on them. Many injured athletes use swimming to stay fit while recovering. Unlike hard running or high-intensity workouts on land, you can increase intensity in the water without feeling as much wear and tear on your body. Another benefit of this is that those with joint issues like arthritis can enjoy the benefits of swimming due to the support from the water, reducing pain, stiffness, and mobility issues.
9. Meet new people and build a community
Regularly going to your local pool will help you meet new people and build a community. The more frequently you go, the more people you will regularly see to build a rapport with. It's also an excellent opportunity to make friends and even gain a swim buddy or two.
Having a swim partner or even building a relationship with the pool staff can help motivate you to get to the facility more often.
Reap the benefits of swimming
Sticking to a swimming program can be difficult. Life gets in the way, and there always seems to be an excuse not to get to the pool—especially if you're just starting. Keeping track of your swim metrics can help you stay focused and motivated as you see positive results.
Luckily, FORM Smart Swim Goggles make swimming and fitness enjoyable. The display technology shows you exactly how long you've been swimming, how much distance you've covered, how many calories you've burned, and more. The data is saved and sent to your phone to help with fitness tracking, accountability, and progress.
The FORM Swim App provides workouts, structure, and community to help swimmers and fitness enthusiasts get more out of their pool workouts. Not only that, FORM's new Workouts feature offers guided workouts right in your goggles with an augmented reality display. You can gain access to hundreds of workouts from Endurance and Technique to Power, Sprint, and Recovery. It's like having your own personal coach providing instructions and motivation to take your swimming to new depths.