Swimming offers cardiovascular and strength training benefits without the risk of impact injury.
It’s difficult to believe that a child’s time spent in the pool can benefit them in sports like football, baseball, or soccer. Water makes you buoyant, so the relationship with body movement is drastically different than when on land. While it may not seem as if they’re synergistic, professional athletes use swimming as part of their exercise programs.
The benefits include increased lung capacity and cardiovascular health, but at much less wear and tear on the body than other sports. Here are four ways swimming can benefit children who participate in sports.
1. Exercise is different in the water
Bucknell University provides some statistics to the difference we feel when exercising in and out of the water. When you swim or do any exercise in the water, you have 12 percent to 14 percent more resistance against you. This resistance helps prevent sudden body movements.
Did you know that 90 percent of your body is buoyant when you’re in water up to your neck? Exercise in the water creates a lower impact on joints. When combined with the higher resistance properties of water, the benefit from a physical workout that’s markedly different than what a child can get from land-based sports.
2. A better all-around workout
According to Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans, “Swimming is the ultimate all-in-one fitness package, working most muscles in the body in a variety of ways with every stroke.” In her book, “Total Swimming,” Evans points out that most other sports benefit only certain parts of the body or areas of fitness.
Evans sums it up by saying that when you’re a swimmer, you don’t have to make decisions about what part of the body to focus on.
3. Helps with injury rehabilitation
The last thing you want to do is impede your recovery from a sports injury – but it’s also important to maintain an exercise regimen to stay in shape. Swimming is the optimal solution, providing low-impact exercise and increased resistance.
Football coach Shelton Stevens notes that swimming doesn’t build muscle, but he recommends it as a rehab (or prehab) activity because it is easier on the joints.
While swimming may not build muscle, it does help all sports participants with overall flexibility and strength – especially in the shoulders, torso, and hips. This is beneficial for sports that place a high demand on rotational motion, so swimming helps golf, football, and baseball players.
4. Increases lung capacity
There’s no issue with air when we participate in sports. But, as Janet Evans explains in her book, swimming switches things around. Swimming promotes greater lung capacity because of the intervals and frequency in which you can breathe. This allows for aerobic and anaerobic gains to be made while swimming. She adds that the physical exertion of swimming signals the body to release endorphins, which give us a sense of wellbeing.
Participants in all sports can measure their progress at achieving greater lung capacity by monitoring their cardiovascular baseline – or their resting heart rate. The quicker you can return to your baseline heart rate after physical exertion, the greater you have increased your lung capacity.
At Ocaquatics, our mission is to help families learn to love swimming and be safer around the water. It’s a necessary life skill, and it also happens to be the perfect complement to just about any sport.
If your child is interested in playing sports, why not sign them up for swim lessons? The benefits they will receive from their swim lessons will be of great benefit for them in their chosen sport. We offer swim lessons year-round, so it’s never too late to sign up. Please contact us if you are ready for your child to begin their journey into sports and to learn how to be safer around water.