For many, swimming is a pleasurable past-time activity that helps them relax and unwind after a tough day or week of work. On the surface, swimming might seem like a low-intensity activity that involves just the use of arms and legs to wade through the water. However, that is not entirely true, as swimming is a full-body workout that involves most muscles in the body, and has other perks.
Benefits of swimming
Like other forms of aerobic exercise, swimming contributes to neurogenesis by repairing damaged neural pathways. However, scientific research shows that regular swimming positively impacts brain functioning by improving memory, cognitive functioning, immune response, and mood, which cannot be derived from other forms of exercise.
Swimming reduces adrenaline and cortisol, the hormones responsible for stress, while stimulating the production of endorphins, which are feel-good factors that help lift our mood.
Helps with insomnia
Swimming relaxes the mind, reduces stress, and makes you physically tired, all ingredients for a proper night's sleep.
Swimming is a unique form of exercise as it involves multiple muscle groups, making it easier to tone your muscles as you burn calories after taking a plunge into the blue waters. It also builds endurance in addition to helping you retain your flexibility.
Suitable for people with injuries
People that cannot take part in high-impact or high resistance activities due to conditions such as arthritis can benefit from swimming because the water gently supports their muscles. Swimming is also a viable form of exercise for those with multiple sclerosis as the water offers gentle resistance and keeps the limbs buoyant.
Comparisons between swimming and cycling
While swimming burns more calories per hour than cycling, mainly because it involves all parts of the body, one cannot swim for as many hours as they can cycle. Cycling, therefore, burns more calories in total.
When it comes to the issue of safety, cycling comes with the risk of a crash, but other than that, it is a low-impact sport. Swimming, on the other hand, is a low-impact sport that involves no risk of crashing.
Regarding ease of learning, cycling takes the top spot as it is easy to get the basics. On the other hand, swimming is relatively more challenging to properly master as it needs most of your muscles to move in perfect sequence and requires you to time your breathing.
Swimming is more economical than cycling since you only need goggles and a swimming trunk/suit. On the other hand, cycling requires at least a bicycle and helmet and can involve a whole lot of other accessories if you get more into it. However, cycling is more convenient since it's easy to find free roads and trails to cycle, while the lack of access to a body of water can be an inconvenience if you intend to swim.
However, both sports are equally beneficial for your health as they lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and can ease joint pain and stiffness or even be used interchangeably to achieve the intended calorie deficit if you aim to burn fat.