Swimming works your whole body, improving cardio, muscle strength, endurance, posture, and flexibility all at the same time. Your cardiovascular system in particular benefits because swimming improves your body’s use of oxygen without overworking your heart. Water can be a powerful medium for you to begin increasing your cardiovascular strength. Swimming can also be a great cross-training exercise your regular workouts.
One of the primary benefits of swimming is that it is very low impact, meaning that you can get your heart rate up and work your whole body physically without it being stressful on your joints. If you have an injury that prevents you from putting weight on your hips, knees or ankles, swimming can help you stay active during recovery and aid in your rehabilitation.
Unlike air, water is a constant source of resistance. Water requires more work to move through than air. But the stress of the movement is shifted away from the weight-bearing joints to the actual muscles. Because water resistance can be controlled by the participant’s level of intensity, workouts can be customized to meet the needs of any age or ability.
While swimming develops general strength, cardio fitness and endurance, it does not help with bone density. Weight bearing exercise is needed to keep your bones strong. Also, using swimming to lose weight is not necessarily the best plan. You will burn calories swimming at a rate of about 3 calories a mile per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 lbs. and it takes you 30 minutes to swim one mile (1,760 yards or 1,609 meters), then you will be using about 900 calories in one hour. However, many swimmers do not swim that quickly, and many cannot swim for that distance or duration.