How swimming can improve your fitness and wellbeing

There’s a reason more women are swapping the pavement for the pool. With researchers stating swimming boosts your cardio capabilities, muscle tone and bone strength, there’s never been a better time to dive in!.

One woman that loves to swim is TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher. She told Womens’ Health how swimming has improved her health, flexibility and wellness – and why she’ll keep swimming ever after she's done with her Ironman training.

Wellness Warrior

Swimming’s benefits mean time put in the pool boosts performance elsewhere, from the road to the yoga mat. “Working in the swimming pool definitely backs up what I do in the gym,” says Kirsty. “My cardio fitness has improved a lot, and I’m much more flexible than when I started.”

Kirsty’s flexibility increase can be attributed to swimming being proven to increase an athlete’s range of motion, sending your yoga game to peak heights. Added muscle tone is a bonus – after all, water is 800% denser than air, giving you resistance training with no need to touch the squat rack. Infrequent breaths make your body better at processing oxygen, upping your cardio ability.

Feeling fresh

“I think swimming revitalises you,” says Kirsty. “You get out of the pool and have a shower and you feel refreshed. You might be physically tired but generally it perks you up mentally.”

Kirsty’s mood boost is backed by science; Disease Control and Prevention found swimming decreases symptoms of depression, anxiety and lifts your spirits. If you’re feeling blue, it might be time to Dive In.

Longevity boost

Swimming’s longevity benefits are not lost on Kirsty; with the lack of stress on her joints, it’s a workout she can love for a long time to come. “Like a lot of people I swam a lot as a child,” she tells us. “As I got older I stopped going to the pool as much, possibly because of being a mum and so on. But now I make time for the pool every week. I do think I'll carry on swimming for the long haul!”

Swimming will actually make that haul longer. The University of South Carolina studied swimmers over the course of 30 years. The researchers concluded swimmers were 50% more likely to live longer than those doing alternative forms of cardio. It’s all down to your limited breaths during lengths – as well as improving cardiovascular performance, if your body's using oxygen more efficiently you could be living longer as a result, according to the journal Aging Cell. Adding years onto your life while taking inches off your waist; what better reasons to take the plunge?

Matt Cooper