Swimming is great for your physical health by providing a low-impact cardio workout. Yet there are many other significant health benefits which have remained relatively unknown and unpublicised … until now.
Steven Shaw has spent the last quarter of a century developing his Shaw Method – an accessible way that even the most stubborn land lover can discover their inner dolphin and access the following hidden benefits and pleasures of swimming. Here, he lets you in on a few secrets ...
Research into these hidden health benefits supports the idea that swimming is more than just another way of working out – it's a transformational activity capable of integrating our mind/body experience.
However, in order to accrue these hidden benefits, the swimmer must have a positive relationship with the water and be able to swim sustainably at a moderate pace for 20 minutes or more, three times a week.
Swimming with poor technique (with the face out of the water or a screw kick in breaststroke, for instance) can do more harm than good.
Let's have a look at my top 10 hidden health benefits of swimming:
#1 – It Buoys You Up
It's not just the sight of water that makes us feel better. New research from Harvard Medical School has found that immersion can actually improve your mental state.
So next time you feel a bit stressed, try going for a swim.
#2 – It's A Screen Antidote
So many of us spend several hours hunched over a screen every day. Swimming a combination of strokes can significantly improve your posture.
Front and back crawl strengthen the muscles responsible for good posture and help you walk tall.
#3 – Swimming helps you lose That Belly Fat!
When most people think about swimming, they think about toning the arms and legs, but swimming with good form provides an excellent workout for your abs – and it is much more enjoyable than doing hundreds of crunches.
#4 – It Counter Arthritis & Back Pain
The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so that you can move them more fluidly when you get out of the water. It also mobilises the spine.
#5 – It Boosts Your Sex Drive
Recent research from the US for men and women over the age of sixty, reports that people who swim at least three times a week have reported an increase in their libido levels: swimming is sexy!
#6 – It Improves Your Concentration
The way in which swimming requires you to coordinate mind and body is extremely helpful in improving mental functioning.
#7 – Swimming Is Mindful
Health professionals are increasingly aware of the benefits of mindfulness training for stress reduction and improving our general health and wellbeing.
Research in Israel has found that swimming is the most mindful of all popular activities.
#8 – Swim Backstroke
When you swim backstroke you burn more calories than you realise. Our legs tend to sink when we swim on our back, and therefore we need to kick them much more vigorously than when we swim on our front.
A bonus for swimmers who prefer to keep their face dry, or enjoy looking at the sky!
#9 – Keeps You Supple
Swimming keeps you supple and helps you maintain a good range of motion.
#10 – Boosts Your Self-esteem
Learning a new stroke or taking up swimming regularly has been shown to boost your confidence and self-esteem.
The great thing about swimming (in contrast to many other sports) is that it's never too late to learn. Many people take it up for the first time in their seventies, eighties or even their nineties: I've taught them! So don't waste any more time – get into the water and swim!
Start reaping the rewards of the ultimate wellbeing workout. If you would like to know more about the health benefits of the Shaw Method check out The Art Of Swimming website or get hold of a copy of my book, Master the Art of Swimming.