NYC Lifestyle Blog

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When I was younger, I exercised without much thought about the health aspect. It just felt good to work out. I’ve started paying more attention to the positive effects of my exercise. I recently added swimming to my routine, and I’ve been amazed by how powerful a workout it provides. Here are 5 health benefits I get from swimming:

1) Improved mental health. I saw the effects of this one after I had started swimming – I just felt in a better mood after I swam. I’ve heard that a water workout can help people with fibromyalgia, by lessening anxiety, and it is also beneficial for depression. For chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, swimming can improve the condition. I look at swimming as an investment in keeping my mind active and healthy, and reducing my risk for chronic conditions. Here is an excellent resource with more information:

• Heart Health & Swimming

2) It’s great for the heart. When I exercise, my muscles get stronger – just do bicep curls for a while, and you can see the muscle getting bigger and stronger. The heart is a very vital muscle, so if I can make it stronger and in better shape by swimming, that’s a wonderful outcome! One article states that cardiovascular (heart) disease is the number 1 killer in America. That’s a pretty strong statement, and got my attention. I’ve also read that over a million people have heart attacks every year. I’ll definitely take time to lessen that risk.

3) A whole body workout. I loved watching Michael Phelps in the Olympics – his astonishing and fluid movements through the water were so inspiring. You can just tell when he swims that his whole body is involved in the workout. When I started swimming, boy, did I confirm that. I had to keep kicking, windmilling my arms, and breathing correctly to move down the lane. It was a total effort. Over time, I have seen my muscle strength, endurance and even my posture improve from the swimming.

4) Low impact exercise. I used to be a runner, until my knees started feeling the effects of years of pounding along the running trails. I had to cut back on the running, and swimming became the replacement. The buoyancy of the water is a great component of the workout. I leave the gym without feeling the twinges in my knees that I used to have. I can really push hard in the water, and afterward, I don’t have any achy joints. That’s really important to me. As I get older, I think I will be glad that I have spent the time to improve at swimming, because I get such a strong workout which doesn’t have a negative impact on my body.

5) Lower blood pressure. I have blood pressure that always stays in the normal range – and I want to keep it that way. My Dad played football in college, then took a sales job where he didn’t exercise and instead took clients to lunch a lot. He started having problems with his blood pressure, and it took him a long time to adjust and bring it back down. From watching his experiences, I decided to not start down that road. I want to keep my blood pressure low, and swimming is wonderful for that. My doctor really supports my swimming, in part because of my outstanding blood pressure readings.

Yes, I have started to pay more attention to my exercise and the benefits I get from it. But in addition to all of that– I feel great when I swim, and that just makes me smile.

Becky Flanigan writes for, and her areas of expertise are kids and parenting, exercise and health. She is avid about her workouts, which have ranged from aqua jogging to marathon training. She and her husband Ed also enjoy entertaining, and taking vacations with their 3 kids.