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Why Swimming Is One of the Best Forms of Aerobic Exercise

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Why Swimming Is One of the Best Forms of Aerobic Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise will help you live a longer, healthier life. The health benefits of aerobic exercise include decreased risk of developing certain health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even some types of cancer. Exercise improves function of the heart and lungs and improves blood flow to the body’s organs and tissues. It even works as a natural painkiller and stress reliever, spurring the release of “feel good” endorphins.

While any form of aerobic exercise is good for your body, there are certain health benefits of swimming—which is No. 2 in the list of best aerobic exercises as calculated by Dr. Kenneth Cooper. Adam Hindson, Cooper Fitness Center Dallas Swim Professional, explains the added health benefits of swimming and provides an example of a swimming workout.

Top health benefits of swimming

Aquatic exercise has the benefit of max calorie burn per minute and a minimum impact on joint tissue. You obtain max calorie burn in an aquatic environment due to the push/pull resistance of water. Any movement you do on land has a greater resistance when you do the same movement in the water. For example: try walking on a track and then try walking in a pool. Water forces all push/pull muscles to work through the entire movement while simultaneously exerting aquatic resistance through that entire motion.

Swimming also provides minimum impact on joint tissue. When we are in water, gravity has less of an effect on the body than when we are on land. All movements during aquatic exercise are supported with greater buoyancy and a reduced impact on the joints. Your body weight on land has a greater impact velocity than it does in water, which means land exercise is harder on your joints.

Swimming vs. other forms of exercise

It is widely documented that swimming is one of the best lifelong exercises available to us, regardless of age and health goals. The challenge for any swimmer is the investment versus the return. Investing in swimming as an exercise is like a roller coaster in the stock market. Your investment could pay immediate benefits if you take to the water or it might require a long-term approach to see gains. Getting healthy and fit won’t happen over night. Make a commitment to daily exercise and you will achieve your fitness goals over time. Working with a swimming coach may help you achieve your health and fitness goals faster. A coach will help you identify your goals, help you improve your stroke, provide motivation to complete your swimming program and specify your workouts to your unique health and fitness concerns.

Below is a sample swim workout for individuals who are familiar with the four primary swimming strokes: Freestyle, butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke. If you are not familiar with these strokes but would like to learn, consider working with a swimming coach to learn proper form. Modify the workout to fit your skill level as needed. The entire workout can be completed freestyle, if needed.

Example swimming workout

Four Mini Ladders: All 25-yard segments include a 30-second rest for freestyle, and 45-second rest for backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.

1st ladder: Up Ladder

25-yards Butterfly (:30 or :45 rest)

50-yards Butterfly (:60 or 1:30 rest)

75-yards Butterfly (1:30 or 2:15 rest)

100-yards Butterfly (2:00 or 3:00 rest)

2nd Ladder: Down Ladder

100-yards Backstroke (2:00 or 3:00 rest)

75-yards Backstroke (1:30 or 2:15 rest)

50-yards Backstroke (:60 or 1:30 rest)

25-yards Backstroke (:30 or :45 rest)

3rd Ladder: Up Ladder

25-yards Breaststroke (:30 or :45 rest)

50-yards Breaststroke (:60 or 1:30 rest)

75-yards Breaststroke (1:30 or 2:15 rest)

100-yards Breaststroke (2:00 or 3:00 rest)

4th Ladder: Down Ladder

100-yards Freestyle (2:00 or 3:00 rest)

75-yards Freestyle (1:30 or 2:15 rest)

50-yards Freestyle (:60 or 1:30 rest)

25-yards Freestyle (:30 or :45 rest)


The goal of this set is to do all 4 ladders without rest in between. It is OK to add rest between ladders. It is also OK to adjust the swim times.

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Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.