With hectic work and family schedules, women need more ways to unwind and relax. Swimming is a low-impact aerobic activity that builds long, lean muscles and helps women maintain a healthy weight. According to MayoClinic.com, swimming may also help you cope with life’s stresses by increasing feelings of self-worth and accomplishment, taking your mind off worries and offering a means for more social interaction. Swimming can likewise combat the development of, and decrease symptoms related to, depression.
Swimming as Exercise
Swimming engages most of the major muscle groups including legs, arms, back, shoulders and abdominal muscles while helping increase flexibility. Flexibility can help prevent injury. Swimming also increases flexibility, which helps prevent injury and builds cardiovascular health, which helps combat cardiovascular disease. As part of a regular routine, women can successfully tone trouble areas such as the backs of the arms and the belly.
Maintain Healthy Weight
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of weekly, light to moderate aerobic activity such as swimming to help maintain a healthy weight. Freestyle swimming at a light to moderate pace can burn 472 calories hourly for a 130-pound woman and 563 calories for a 155-pound woman, says the Wisconsin Department of Health. Freestyle is the most common style and offers the most efficient stroke. More advanced swimmers exercising at a vigorous pace can burn 590 calories hourly for a 130-pound woman and 704 calories for a 155-pound woman.
Women are twice more likely than men to suffer from depression and associated symptoms such as anxiety and loss of sleep. Swimming releases endorphins and neurotransmitters, which make you feel good and help ward off depression. Exercise may also reduce immune system chemicals and help increase body temperature, which may have a calming effect. Swimming is an appropriate exercise as it is easy to adapt it to your fitness level and preference. Swimming also provides a quiet environment with few distractions, which allows you to focus your attention.
Meditation and Stress
According to the American Psychological Association, more women than men admit to rising levels of stress. Women also report more physical and emotional symptoms related to stress. Swimming can be a form of meditation, affording opportunities for contemplation that could leaving you feeling more tranquil and at peace. While you are swimming, allow your mind to relax. Swim at a consistent, slow pace. Focus on your breathing and swimming rhythm.
- MayoClinic.Com: Depression in Women: Understanding the Gender Gap
- MayoClinic.Com: Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms
- MayoClinic.Com: Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress
- Women’s Health: Stress and Your Health Fact Sheet
- APA: Gender and Stress
- Daytona State College: Health and Exercise Tips for All Ages
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Calories Burned Per Hour
Madison Hawthorne holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing, a master's degree in social work and a master's degree in elementary education. She also holds a reading endorsement and two years experience working with ELD students. She has been a writer for more than five years, served as a magazine submission reviewer and secured funding for a federal grant for a nonprofit organization. Hawthorne also swam competitively for 10 years and taught for two years.