Regular exercise is vital to leading a healthy lifestyle, whether you choose to run, walk, bike, or swim.
Incorporating a good variety of the different types of exercise into your routine can help keep things interesting and fun, while also working different muscles and building strength in various focus areas.
However, some forms of exercise can be more strenuous on the body than others, and not in that “feel-good-burn” kind of way.
Let’s explore why swimming can be the best exercise choice for those who are concerned about taking it easy on their joints.
Swimming is Low-Impact
Swimming, and other water-based exercises, can reduce your body weight by as much as 90 percent, which is a huge stress-reducer for your joints. Running, on the other hand, while great for cardiovascular and respiratory function, is a high-impact, high-intensity form of exercise. For example, the impact of consistently pushing off of the ground can damage the cartilage in the knees. The repeated strain it causes on your joints and soft tissues can further irritate those who already experience joint pain, or even lead to new injuries after repeated activity.
While there are some techniques that runners can try to mitigate the damage to their joints, running will always feature some kind of hard resistance. While swimming, the only solid contact a swimmer’s body will have is when pushing off of a wall during a turn. Otherwise, the only resistance present is that of the water as they push forward. The low-impact nature of swimming makes it far healthier for joints in the long run.
Swimming Can Be Beneficial When Recovering from Injury
Swimming is often recommended for rehabilitation from injuries, especially in cases of back, leg, or sciatic nerve injuries. It may seem counter-productive, but staying active while recovering from an injury is actually a key part of rehabilitation. Without regular activity, the injured area can become stiff and painful. However, it’s important to choose recovery exercises carefully, as many types of movement can put additional strain on a sore or injured body part. Since swimming is a low-impact exercise, it can help keep you moving without adding to the strain on the joint or muscle you are easing back to health.
In addition to being low-impact, swimming and being in the water makes you essentially weightless. Again, this allows you to move and stretch the injured area, keeping the muscles loose and flexible but without bearing weight or adding any pressure. Anyone who has been injured for a length of time also knows that it can be an easy way to fall out of shape. To avoid further strain on an injury, many will cut out regular exercise altogether. Swimming is a great way to stay active and still get regular cardio without causing further harm to an injury.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you have arthritis or regular joint pain, or are recovering from an injury, it’s important to talk to your doctor before trying any kind of exercise or rehabilitation. While swimming can be a great way to stretch achy joints or remain active while healing an injury, everyone’s body is different, so be sure to talk to a professional you trust to find out the best path for you.
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