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Certified Personal Trainer. Health Foodie. Wife. Mom.

Why Swimming Is Good For Your Overall Heart Health



Bottom line, any type of exercise is good for your heart, because moving your muscles makes your number one muscle, your heart, work harder as it pumps blood. This increased workload strengthens your heart, which improves resting heart rate, blood pressure and overall health. So we know that swimming is good for your heart. But how good is it compared to other popular forms of exercise, like walking and running? Here are just a few links that scratch the surface of the benefits of swimming for your overall health:

Swimming: Joint Friendly and Good for the Heart

Heart Health & Swimming Pools

Why Swimming is So Good for You

A recent study by the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, tells more of the story. In the study, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and maximum energy output, among other things, were compared across 46,000 people in four groups: swimmers, runners, walkers and non-exercisers (we’ll call them “sitters”). The group with the highest (best) numbers: Runners and swimmers, followed closely by walkers. I think we all know where the sitters placed: on the couch, in last place.

Like any other aerobic exercise, swimming works the heart and lungs, which lowers both breathing rate and resting heart rate, as well as trains the body to maximize oxygen usage. But there is another upside besides being heart-healthy: the meditative nature of swimming also serves as a mind relaxer and stress-reducer. Swimming laps, due to the repetitive nature of the exercise, and lack of safety concerns like traffic, equipment, etc., allows one to rely very heavily on muscle memory to get the job done. Many swimmers report the feeling of an almost hypnotic state—with no worries about another cyclist or a car cutting you off, or slick roads and puddles.

Just Like Riding a Bike

The great thing about swimming is that you are never too old to learn. Because swimming is such a low-impact exercise, and gentle on the joints and muscles, it can be learned (or re-learned) at any age. For older folks, start slowly: Warm up by treading water for five minutes, and then try ten or fifteen minutes of gentle lap swimming. Don’t forget to try a variety of strokes: breast, back, freestyle, etc., to find the one that is best for you. Over the course of several weeks, you will notice that you can swim for increasingly longer amounts of time without feeling tired.

No Time Like the Present

There is no optimum age for learning to swim. If you are an adult who doesn’t know how to swim, or needs formal lessons to brush up on your strokes or improve your technique, inquire at your local health club, gym or community pool. If you have a backyard pool of your own and want to receive instruction in the privacy of your own backyard, put a call into your local high school’s swim coach to find out about students who might want to make some extra money doing swim instruction on the weekends. Finally, personal trainers employed by gyms are often available to work outside of their job site for a fee.

Keep Challenging Yourself

Once you get the hang of it as an exercise routine, you’ll want to increase your number of laps and aim for approximately 20 to 30 minutes at an even pace, as long as you are keeping your heart rate up. Keep in mind that unlike running or other land-based aerobic activities, swimming places less burden on your heart, which means that your maximum target heart rate will not be as high. Typically, your target heart rate while swimming will be 10 to 20 beats per minute lower than other forms of exercise.

For an exercise routine that is both low-impact/joint friendly, and a great overall workout for your heart and general wellbeing, consider swimming. Your heart will thank you!

Becky Flanigan writes for, and focuses on kids, parenting, exercise and health. She is avid about her workouts, which range from aqua jogging to marathon training. She and her husband Ed also enjoy entertaining and traveling with their three kids.

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