Aerobic exercise like swimming engages every muscle group and is a great activity fun for all ages. For seniors, aquatic exercise is low impact and helps loosen painful joints, and for the youngins the benefits are priceless! Learning water safety is vital for everyone when playing in the water. Similar to other cardiorespiratory activities, swimming is often suggested as a way to reduce high blood pressure or leg swelling, and recruit alveoli – tiny air sacs where oxygen exchange occurs in the lungs. Regular practice improves cardiovascular endurance and circulation, as well as helping expand your lungs’ capacity.
Swimming can enhance teamwork skills. When you’re taught to swim in a class or on a team, you learn to work with others. You learn from an instructor or by helping others learn, and then you learn to work together to meet your own and team goals. These communication skills carry to all aspects of your life. Skills like these really sink in when kids are having fun too!
Swimming can help you learn to set goals. Depending on the age and physical condition of the swimmer, the goals of the swimmer are vastly different. Swimming is a sport that focuses on the individual and these strengths can be taken out of the water. Many little swimmers succeed in other learning environments, often in honors or accelerated academic programs, because of the self-motivation learned in swim classes.
People who swim from an early age are more confident. Swimming is a confidence-building sport. Besides the obvious physical benefits of swimming, the independence acquired with increased swim skills are a confidence boost for children. Visual-motor skills are also vastly above their peers, including delicate tasks like cutting with scissors or coloring in the lines. Even children with disabilities or learning disorders get benefits from swimming.
Swimming can enhance cognitive functions. By decreasing inflammation and insulin resistance in the brain, exercise fosters new cell growth. In fact, according to Professor Robyn Jorgensen from Griffith University in Australia, “children in swimming schools appear to be more advanced in terms of their development. It is also known to foster healthy physiological function, reducing anxiety and relieving stress.”
Swimmers often find it easier to develop social skills. Water has always been a place of social interaction for humans. Lakeside, oceanside, or poolside – they’re great places to gather with friends and family. Not only does this socializing lead to better mental health, but it gives us a chance to develop our own social skills in a casual setting. The aforementioned study also found that children who learn to swim early on, also develop social skills more quickly than their peers. Engaging in activities outside of school helps children learn social and emotional skills to help them learn how to navigate the world. It’s imperative to the social well-being of children (and adults too) to learn how to healthily manage emotions, show empathy, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Parents you may find yourself asking, “Well, how is this accomplished by splashing around in the pool?” Swimming nurtures team building skills with weekly practice encouraging each individual swimmer to work towards their goals.
Swim stress away. Studies have shown that those who swim regularly experience less stress and anxiety, depression, and perhaps even increased body relaxation. Swimming stimulates the release of serotonin, (a hormone that influences your body’s mood), and fosters hippocampal neurogenesis. Your hippocampus is a part of your limbic system, or emotional brain, and shrinks when subjected to chronic stress. With routine aquatic exercise, oxygen bathes the brain and helps to nurture new cell growth in structures like the hippocampus.
Mindfulness and a calm mind. Besides the biochemical benefits of swimming, some swimmers find with every arch of their arms or turn of their head, a rhythmic pattern emerges with their breathing. With repeat practice, swimming works to calm the mind and can help teach kids to overcome pervasive thought patterns.