The Benefits of Swimming Over Running

Whether you choose to run or swim, they both help you lose weight and improve cardio fitness. It’s just the advantages of swimming outweigh those of running for many reasons.

What’s so good about Swimming?

Resistance effect in water – strengthens the body
Burns Calories
Keeps blood pressure down – good cardiovascular workout without straining the heart.
Weightlessness of water – no stress on the joints, lengthens the spine

Resistance Effect

A great natural advantage to swimming is the resistance effect. Water is 1000 times more dense than air, so when you swim, it’s like weight training without the dumbbells. The water itself is your weight training.

You get a full body workout when you swim that puts little stress on your joints. You engage the muscles of the upper and lower body. This includes the legs, core, the upper and lower back, the arms, shoulders and chest.

Just like weight training, swimming engages and tones muscle due to the resistance. Although running is a great cardio workout, it does little to enhance a dynamic muscular body.

Burns the Calories

A moderate-intensity workout classifies keeping your heart-rate at 50-70 % of maximum heart rate.

A rigorous workout runs at 70-85 % max heart-rate. After an intensive 30 minute breaststroke swim, you can burn up to 300 calories. This can vary according to your weight. The heavier you are, the more calories you burn. By burning 500 calories more than you eat every day, you can lose a pound of fat a week. Okay, this does not sound much. But think long-term. After a month you can lose about 4-5 pounds – almost half a stone. Multiply that by 6 months and you have lost 2 stone of body fat.

Why Swimming helps the Heart Work More Efficiently?

When the body is in an upright position (e.g. when run or jump),the heart has to work hard to pump blood and oxygen to and from the lower extremities. This increase demand on the heart can lead to spikes in blood pressure – not good for the heart.

The American College of Sports Medicine states: ‘Swimming works the cardiovascular system without causing major increases in blood pressure.’ Because the body is in a horizontal position whilst swimming, the heart does have to work as hard. There is almost no gravity involved, so the blood pressure stays down.

The Weightlessness of Water

Yet another benefit swimming has over running, is the weightlessness effect in water. At the end of every stroke – breast stroke, freestyle etc, your body stretches out. Because the water holds your body up, it enables you to stretch out whilst in motion. The spine can then lengthen, elongating the gaps between the vertebrae.

Physiotherapists encourage patients with disc problems to swim because of this spine lengthening effect. It takes pressure off the discs.

Benefits and Risks of Running

Running generally has great benefits.

It reduces the chances of contracting:-

Type 2 Diabetes
Depression
Cardiovascular disease

It improves:-

Bone density
Weight control

The risks of long distance running without a supervised trainer needs consideration though. They can advice you on nutrition, rest and good running technique. For safety reasons:- A medical check to look out for heart conditions, bio mechanical issues or other risk factors are a must.

Marathon running over extends the immune system. It makes the body produce excessive amounts of cortisol to reduce swelling. The advice to runners is to increase vitamin C, get plenty of sleep and avoid outside stresses. This helps recuperation and boosts immunity.

To Sum Up

I do not want to put runners off what they obviously love doing. It’s health benefits are undeniable. However, long distance running does put enormous strains on the ankle, hip and knee joints.

Swimming has pluses for strength, weight loss, low joint stress and cardiovascular endurance.

There’s no negative points about swimming apart from the necessity to learn how to swim. It can be a problem for many who were not introduced to the water at an early age. I say, it’s never too late to learn. Swimming lessons are not expensive and there are plenty of instructors pool side whatever venue you choose.

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Slow Swimmer, The Mermaid Of The Lake

In the twilight of my years I often remember a simpler time when life moved slower with peace and grace. Many a day I often strolled along the shore path of the lake I called home for so many summers when I was young. There in the peace of the morning when the sun first began to shine it’s warmth upon to cool still waters I often notice this lone slow swimmer. From a short distance from the path I was on this gentle figure whose slender grace poised a most breathtaking sight. The beauty of her figure matched the ease of her tempo for her rhythm was like gentle waltz. Her gentle sway as she swam was like the rolling waves that rolled on in. Her locomotion moved me to a completely different reality.

This beautiful slow swimmer whose beauty and grace for many a morning we caught each others eye as she gently swam on. Soon we became familiar sights, me on the path, she swimming on by, for now she even stopped and waved, tempting me to join on in. As I stood speechless as she swam by I could tell she wanted me to join her, and the next morning I did. I will never forget that summer. That one summer where for four weeks every morn at half past ten we swam together, poetry in motion gliding through the gentle waves. Afterwards we’d rest on a nearby pier and a friendship was forged, but nothing more.

When summer was over we said our good-byes. I was hoping that next summer we could resume our friendship and our morning swim. All through that winter I was hoping for more. When the next summer finally came I’d run down to the lake and jumped on in for at half past ten, hoping to see my slow swimmer once again. I stood there waiting, the water still cool. I kept looking but she didn’t come. A sadness came over me as the clouds came rolling in. I started to swim along the shore again but, this time it was different the loneliness set in. I thought to myself afterwards maybe it was meant to be a once in a lifetime encounter with my mermaid of the lake.

It has been over 50 years since those wondrous days and a long time since I was back down by the lake. But, through all the years I still remember with great fondness the fun we shared. I did find out some years later that my slow swimmer had moved far away and was never able to come back to the lake. But the memory of that one summer has stayed through all these years. I just can’t help thinking what could have been if my slow simmer had come back and at half past ten we’d swim again.

As the years have flown by memories do come back. A kaleidoscope of images flashes now and again. The times of my life where moments of joy as well as sorrow fills my conscious thought. But, none so clear as that one summer where my mermaid by the lake held me captive every morn for at half past ten we’d swim again. Of all the times where I yearned for romance that mermaid by the lake the friendship we’d shared made her memory so sweet and dear.

Now, that another summer fast approaches though I am a thousand miles from that lake I still partake of a morning swim at a half past ten where the water is more suited to my aging frame. I still think of the time of that one summer where the gentle clear cool waters invited us to have such sweet tender moments that bring back such fond memories of the times I cherish where my slow swimmer, the mermaid of the lake and I glided through those cool clear waters.

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