Now, this topic is not directly connected to open water swimming, but rather a more general overview for broader audience.
Many people know that swimming improves your health, helps to manage weight and is just a fun physical activity. That’s just common sense, and we don’t really put a lot of thought into this. But, how exactly does it help? Here’s a brief overview:
Heart & lungs
When your body is horizontal and you make cyclical moves – your breath is deep and you use diaphragm a lot. This improves blood flow to your heart and makes it work extremely effective. With regular training (2-3 times or more, per week) blood pressure shows an overall decrease. That’s thanks to effective work of your blood vessels, that have now become elastic.
Breathing during your stroke is not just an important technical element of your swimming – but also gives a great boost for your lungs. Your breath in a very intense way and air goes to the deepest parts of your lungs. Lung-related diseases are now easier to avoid.
If you’re swimming in pool near you, or in open water, the water is usually much colder than in your shower, for example. And many of us like to think about life in a shower. It’s very relaxing. But, when you get used to cold water in a pool, it’s actually even more relaxing. When your body temperature decreases – blood supply to your brain improves. Also, water has a massage effect which relaxes you even more, despite of having quite a challenging physical activity (in case you swim in a good tempo).
Joints & muscles
When you swim, your body is in a state that we call hydro-static weightlessness. It’s not exactly like your in space, bu pretty close :). The joints of your entire body actually don’t have any pressure on them when you swim (compared to when you walk, stand and especially, sit).
Your spine stretches during your swim and takes a rest. And there’s an interesting fact – if you measure your height after swim, you will be 0,5-1 inch “longer”. Of course, after a couple of hours our spine is back to it’s previous position and we’re back to our normal height.
Swimming is great to make your back muscles stronger. It’s not only giving a good visual effect but has a great practical benefit – strong muscles support your spine, so that less pressure is addressed on intervertebral discs – this way you can stop diseases like osteochondrosis from appearing, or at least manage them in case they have occurred already. And, what is more important, avoid intervertebral hernia in future (that’s a very popular side effect of osteochondrosis).
Needless to say, some sports can do harm to your joints and bones. That is not imaginable with swimming, which only helps here.
To summarize, here’s a great infographic for swimming benefits: