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Swim for Your Health

Toni-Ann DiSantis

Swim for your health (via Cleveland Clinic Wellness)

Trying to start an exercise routine, lower your blood pressures, ease low back pain, or find a form of exercise that’s as soothing as it is energizing? Or perhaps all of the above? Make like a fish, and swim! Summer is the perfect time to embark on a swimming routine. While any safe exercise that you enjoy is “good” exercise, swimming offers some unique benefits. The gravity-defying power of water provides a cushion that protects joints, bones, and muscles from the wear and tear of typical land-based exercise. That can be especially helpful for people who have osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, or any other condition that can be aggravated by higher-impact exercise, as well as those who are overweight or obese. That water cushion doesn’t let your heart, muscles, or lungs off the hook, though. Swimming has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve lung capacity, and ease back pain. In one study, people with arthritis who swam got the same or better cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits as those who cycled. Like other forms of exercise, swimming is great for your mental health, too. Some research even suggests that people enjoy swimming more than other forms of exercise, perhaps because the soothing nature of water and the rhythmic back and forth in a pool can make for a uniquely relaxing experience. Ready to dive in? Knowing proper form and breathing techniques is essential for getting the hang of swimming, so find an instructor if your skills are rusty, and avoid injury or burnout by building up your time in the pool gradually. Whether you make swimming your main aerobic activity or include it in the mix with walking, jogging, or biking, aim for about 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. A wave of health benefits awaits!