When it’s hot outside, nothing feels as good as a dip in the water. Whether you have a backyard pool (or a friend or neighbor who does) or prefer to plunge into a lake, river or the ocean, swimming is more than just a great way to cool off; it’s also one of the best forms of exercise there is.
Even a leisurely swim burns a lot of calories, while vigorous lap swimming burns more calories than most other activities (to see how many, plug your weight and swimming style into the handy calculator at the bottom of the page). Beyond that, though, swimming is a complete exercise that works all of the major muscle groups.
In addition, swimming is beneficial because it is low-impact, which means it doesn’t put stress on bones and joints. That makes it ideal for pregnant women, the elderly, people with injuries, and athletes who are looking to rest overtaxed joints.
Swimming can also increase the level of oxygen absorbed by the body, improve circulation, and prevent or reduce high blood pressure, a potentially serious condition that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
If you’re not a great swimmer, you can reap many of these benefits just by running, walking, or doing an aerobic workout in shallow water. The resistance of the water will increase the effectiveness of your workout, while also reducing your body weight to take the stress off of your ankles, knees, back, and other weight-bearing bones and joints.
Because swimming can be as fun and relaxing as it is beneficial, it’s a great way to get moving without it feeling like a chore.
So, what are you waiting for? Dive in!