Want to get healthier and fitter fast? Start swimming.
Swimming has so many benefits, from muscle toning to sleep improvement. It’s also a great complement to most workouts. If you aren’t already swimming regularly, here are all the reasons you need to get started.
1. You want to do cardio
Besides running, swimming is another effective cardio exercise. When you’re in the water, moving feels less like an effort – though swimming is actually more tiring than running! You’ll need to rely on every body part – neck, shoulders, arms, core, back and legs – to help you stay afloat and push through each stroke. It’s safe to say there’s no other cardio exercise that targets your whole body the way swimming does. While you’re training your aerobic fitness, you’re toning up at the same time.
2. You want to build strength, but don’t know where to start
Apart from improving your cardio fitness, swimming gives you the bonus benefits of strength training. Because the resistance of water is many times greater than air, you’ll need to work much harder in the water. Expect to firm up your tummy, arms and legs!
3. You want to lose weight faster
Swimming combines cardio and strength training, making it a super calorie-burner. A 60kg woman can torch about 300 calories swimming breaststroke or freestyle for 30 minutes. That’s more than running at a 7:30/km pace, which burns about 240 calories for that same amount of time. In contrast, a spinning session zaps about 210 calories. For best results, avoid resting in between your laps (we know it’s hard!), and go at a moderately fast pace that feels like 80 to 90 per cent of your maximum effort.
4. Your joints hurt from land exercises
Swimming is a non-weight-bearing activity, which means it has zero impact on your joints. When you’re in the pool, knee pain and backaches are as good as gone. What you will feel, however, is the feeling of weightlessness, as though you’re floating in the air with some resistance. So if you’ve been putting up with joint pain during running and other high-impact workouts, it’s high time to switch to swimming.
5. You’re aching after a hard workout
Sitting or lying down all day while nursing your sore muscles might sound very tempting, but there’s increasing evidence on why you should do recovery exercises on rest days – also known as active recovery. A study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that triathletes performed better when they swam to recover after a hard run instead of purely resting. Swimming in cool water is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the tissues in your muscles.
6. The weather is so hot you can’t even…
When your brains feel like they’re fried from being under the blazing heat, and sweat starts soaking your outfit, you’d mutter in self-pity: “I wish I could jump into a pool right now.” Sounds familiar? To get out of the rut, do just that: Jump into a non-heated pool, enjoy the coolness, and swim. Studies have shown rhythmic aerobic exercises like swimming to reduce levels of anxiety, depression and confusion.
7. Your sleep has been crap lately
You may run, or you may cycle. But no form of exercise has been quite as sleep-inducing as swimming. Don’t believe? Try it. Post-swim, you’re far likelier to doze off than if you did other types of vigorous activities. One plausible reason could be that when you’re in the pool, your body loses heat much more quickly and thus uses more energy to maintain your core temperature. That, plus your actual workout, leads to fatigue. Also, you can’t deny the feeling of deep relaxation that comes after a swim, making you all ready to hit the sack. Schedule your swim in the evening for the best night’s sleep ever.
8. You’re tired of facing smelly laundry
Let’s face it: Any decent workout on land – whether it’s running or lifting weights in the gym – will have you breaking a sweat. Swimming? Not a chance. The relatively low temperature of the water in outdoor pools (25 to 28 deg C) cools you down constantly. So while you might feel your heart race and your cheeks flush during those laps, you won’t leave the pool dripping in sweat – just chlorinated water.
9. You’re constantly camping by your gym’s app to get into “waitlist” classes
We know how frustrating it can be, trying to book a fitness class and finding out that you’re on a waitlist. Your workout plans are on a hold, completely dependent on another gym user’s cancellation. But if you have access to a pool nearby, the equation totally changes. Instead of stressing over that gym slot, head to the pool for some laps. Workout done.
10. You’re running out of sports bras and tights
This one’s perfectly legit. You know how, when you work out on consecutive days and your laundry doesn’t keep up? Some days, you simply have no clean sportswear. Enter multi-purpose swimwear like those from Speedo’s new H2O Active Collection, which is versatile and easy to wash. (Most brands recommend giving it a good soak in cold water, then squeeze – not wring – it gently before leaving it out to dry. Occasionally, hand-wash swimwear with gentle soap to remove the build-up of dirt and chemicals.)
A major update from Speedo’s previous swimwear, this H2O Active Collection features a combination of bright and neutral pieces that let you mix and match. The best part: They are designed for both water and land exercises!
Made from an eco-friendly fabric, the swimwear is lightweight and chlorine-resistant. It’s said to last twice as long as standard swimwear. We love that it’s breathable so sweat won’t get trapped between your skin and the material. And you’ll stay cool as ever.
This collection includes crop tops, capris, shorts, briefs and swimsuits. Here’s a look at our top picks.
The Speedo H2O Active collection retails from S$79 onwards at Royal Sporting House stores in Tanglin, Great World City, Vivocity and Ngee Ann City.