Swimming is a broad term for the action of swimming, whether on the surface or underwater. It encompasses the different physical activities practiced in the water: diving, synchronized swimming, diving, etc. An Olympic discipline since 1896 for men and 1912 for women, swimming remains a sport accessible to all.
The offer in terms of water sports activities is wide and tends to diversify even more. Whether it is aquagym, aquabike, aquatic yoga, or simple swimming, anyone can practice a sport in the water. 2 to 3 weekly sessions are recommended to obtain the maximum benefit.
A sports activity without impact on the joints
One of the first benefits of swimming is certainly the absence of impact on the joints and on the back, which means that this sport can be adopted at all ages. Studies have shown that the practice of an aquatic activity soothes pain related to arthritis and osteoarthritis while strengthening the joints 1-2. Swimming also helps maintain and even improve bone health in women in premenopause or menopause 3. By practicing this type of sport, people in good physical shape will protect themselves against possible pain in the joints.
Tone your muscles without pain
The weightlessness effect felt when a person is immersed in water allows all the muscles to be worked very gently. Since the body’s buoyancy is 80%, movements that are difficult to achieve on the ground can be easily performed in the water. In addition, an additional weight load is not necessary since the aquatic environment itself provides resistance. Men who, for 8 weeks, have trained in a swimming program increased by 23.8% to triceps muscle mass 4. Regular practice of swimming and lifeguard classes helps tone the muscles of the arms, legs, and trunk.
There are many forms of swimming and allow you to work different muscles. Here are 4 techniques:
The breaststroke. It mainly works on the biceps, pectorals, abdominals, and calves. The hands are joined at the height of the chest. They are then pushed forward until the arms are fully extended. Then, they separate, run along each side of the body and meet in the initial position. During this time, the legs perform a breaststroke chisel which consists of bringing the heels closer to the buttocks and then performing propulsion in the manner of a frog jump. The faster this combination of movements, the more powerful the momentum will be.
The crawl. Easy to perform, the crawl allows you to swim quickly. As the legs take an alternating kick, the arms are alternately out of the water. The palm of the hand should face the water when diving in to promote propulsion. This type of swimming helps to tone all the muscles: arms, shoulders, legs, chest, and abs.
The backstroke. This practice allows you to effectively work the back muscles. The movements are the same as for the front crawl except that the back is facing the water rather than the chest. The major difficulty of the backstroke is to stay in the initial trajectory.
The butterfly. The rippling movements of butterfly-type swimming allow you to build your abdominals in depth. However, it is the most difficult technique to master because it requires perfect coordination. The legs should curl so as to propel the trunk out of the water. When getting out of the water, the arms are open in a U-shape and the palms should go back first. Once the arms have entered the water, they should be pushed back towards the waist. This sequence must be repeated continuously.
Better cardiovascular and respiratory capacities
In addition to using all the muscles of the body (biceps, triceps, abdominals, quads, etc.), swimming calls on the respiratory system and cardiovascular capacities. It is one of the most effective physical activities for improving venous return. Due to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles, the different movements performed promote blood circulation while limiting water retention. This is particularly beneficial for the legs which are frequently affected. By swimming regularly, the heart will provide increased power and resistance. Swimming thus makes it possible to limit the risk of cardiovascular disease since, both at rest and during exercise, the work of the heart is made easier.
Benefits for mental health
The state of weightlessness provided by the water allows all the muscles to relax, which is reminiscent of the position of the fetus in its mother’s womb. Thus, tensions and stress evaporate leaving room for a feeling of well-being. In addition to the relaxing context in which it is practiced, swimming, like all sports, causes the secretion of endorphins (= neurotransmitters produced by the pituitary and hypothalamus). These hormones work on the brain, spinal cord, and digestive system to bring the person into a state of bliss. The results of a study concluded that swimming decreases tension, excess anger, the risk of depression, confusion while restoring vigor to those who indulge in it 5.