The Unique Benefits of Swimming

With summer well underway and temperatures hovering in the 90's, it's time once again to visit your neighborhood's or gym's pool. But we'd like you to consider the health benefits of swimming every day of the year.

Swimming is the recommended exercise for those with osteoarthritis because it is easy on the joints. It provides superior vascular function compared to cycling, and reduces inflammatory markers and pain while improving stiffness.

Forget the upper body/lower body/every other day gym routine. Swimming will work your entire body, cardio and strength, everyday. Legs, arms, glutes, back, and core all get pumped as you propel yourself through the water. Are you doing high-intensity interval training to maximize your training efficiency? If so, do it in the pool! Practice swimming 50-meter sprints as fast as you can.

Swimming increases the blood flow to the brain like no other land-based exercise. And it doesn't even have to be swimming. Any land-based exercise, even walking, while done submerged or partially submerged, has special benefits for the brain.

In fact, the kind of strength benefits that you get from swimming cannot be acquired through any land-based exercise regimen. One study found that adding weight training to a swimmer’s routine made the athlete more powerful in the water but didn’t improve actual swim performance. Additional research shows that only swim-specific lifts (bench press and pullover) improved swim performance. But although running won't make you a better swimmer, swimming will make you better on the track. In a 2013 Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports study, swimmers who followed a controlled breathing technique improved their running economy by 6 percent after just 12 swim sessions.

Swimming works your lungs in a mission-critical kind of way. All cardiovascular exercise increases your lung capacity, and done properly can leave us gasping for breath. But when we swim, we have no choice but to hold our breath in many instances; it's a bit more extreme – in a good way way – than just holding our breath in a land sprint.

Not to mention, your skill as a swimmer may just save your – or someone else's – life one day. The planet we are on is 75 percent water, and it just makes good sense to be comfortable moving around it it, quickly and confidently.

Still not convinced, landlubber? How about this: People who swim regularly are biologically and 20 years younger than their actual aged, according to research from Indiana University. Swimming has an ameliorating effect on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system health, cognitive functioning, muscle mass, and blood chemistry, turning back the clock on all of them by two decades, up to your 70th birthday.