Swimming as Exercise: The Benefits of Buoyancy  

by Pool Builders on 09-18-2007 in Articles

Whether swimming organized laps or playing around, doing water aerobics or simply walking the length of the pool, exercise in a swimming pool offers both mental and physical health benefits that are hard to ignore.

But what, specifically, happens to your body when immersed in water? Why, in other words, is swimming such good exercise?

In a word? Buoyancy.

We all weigh approximately ninety percent less in water. That ability to float--buoyancy--gives the body an opportunity to work in ways land-based exercises can't.

First of all, joints like ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders are relieved of carrying nearly ninety percent of our body weight--meaning less strain whether you are in optimal health, overweight, or recovering from an injury or surgical procedure. Couple this with water's natural resistance (its natural "push" against motion), and you have an environment that requires you to burn energy while putting less strain on your joints; no matter which way you move in water (swimming, walking, playing, aerobics, etc.).

Buoyancy also means less stress on the circulatory system. Because the body is essentially weightless, it's easier for the heart and lungs and circulatory system to move oxygen through the body, increasing the efficiency of exercise. More oxygen to muscles means greater benefits, no matter what the exercise.

And finally, lets talk about that exercise. Buoyancy allows for a full-body workout no matter what the activity, because there is resistance in every, and any, direction you move--resistance that is applied equally against your body, resistance that increases proportionately with more vigorous movement. Think of buoyancy as an exercise machine that adjusts automatically with the level of intensity of your motion within a swimming pool--a self-regulating exercise that doesn't require you to switch weights, count repetitions or "think" in any way.

So if your thinking about exercise, consider using the natural buoyancy the body gets when immersed in the water of a swimming pool. It's easier on the joints, better for circulation and offers gradual, full-body resistance that's great for muscle development and tone.

And don't forget the benefit that millions of recreational swimmers already know: Swimming is fun!

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