10 Hidden Health Benefits of Swimming

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 ...

benefits of swimming

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.

benefits of swimming for weight loss

#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.

benefits of swimming laps

#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.

swimming workouts

#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.

benefits of swimming for men

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!

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About the author

Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw, known as the "horse whisperer of swimming", is the designer of the internationally-acclaimed Shaw Method of swimming and founder of London-based Art of Swimming Ltd, based in Frome in Somerset, UK.

He brings with him 25 years' experience of developing the Shaw Method, a technique which has enabled over 10,000 people worldwide transform their swimming and their relationship with the water.

Steven has applied principles of the Alexander Technique to water, recrafting the strokes to promote optimal body alignment, ergonomic motion, and lasting physical comfort. His teaching incorporates a combination of dry land and water-based training, with hands-on guidance in the pool to facilitate learning. The result is a greater body awareness and a mindful approach to swimming, beneficial beyond the pool.

Steven believes that anyone looking to improve their quality of life long-term, while exercising body and mind, will benefit from the Shaw Method. “I teach people from all walks of life: celebrities, people with special needs, children, professional athletes and adult beginners. What counts for me is addressing the needs and aspirations of each individual. It is so rewarding to see the what can be achieved in a few lessons.” 

The Shaw Method is taught in more than 10 countries worldwide by over 150 teachers trained personally by Steven. For more information about the Shaw Method, please visit artofswimming.com.

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