Jacob Lund/ShutterstockIt’s time to forgo your weekly gym session. And no, we’re not encouraging any bad couch potato habits. Your body will get major results if you jump in a pool, instead.
Surprised? Turns out, swimming has loads of science-backed health benefits. (Try even more workout plans that will give you major results.)
Lap swims combine the best of your cardio and strengthening workouts while protecting your body from injury. In fact, many injured athletes begin swimming for this precise reason; doing so allows them to recover without missing out on the strength and endurance perks from exercise.
“You can get any type of cardio workout that you need in the pool and have little or no impact on your joints,” Ian Rose, director of aquatics at East Bank Club in Chicago, told Healthline. “Other exercises come with a list of potential long-term negative effects.”
Your lungs could also benefit from a dip in the lap lane; swimmers tend to have stronger lungs than other athletes, according to a 2016 study. And let’s not forget the strengthening and toning powers of this full-body exercise. (By the way, this is the absolute best way to build muscle, according to science.)
“Swimming fires up more of your body’s major muscle groups than other forms of cardio exercise,” Natasha Van Der Merwe, director of triathlon at Austin Aquatics and Sports Academy in Austin, Texas told Healthline. “Swimming not only engages your legs, but also recruits your upper body and core, especially your lats—the muscles of your middle back—and triceps.”
Still, you should proceed with caution, as poor swimming technique could lead to further injury, Rose said. Research also shows that competitive swimmers can damage their lungs by training in chlorinated indoor pools.
An easy solution to these concerns: Using gear like fins and a kickboard can train you to use proper form while you swim. Doing so can protect your joints and muscles for the long term. As for your lungs, they should be fine as long as you swim in moderation.
Ready to get started? These 10 swimming workouts can torch major calories.