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The water's lovely: 10 reasons to swim

You've no doubt heard that swimming is good exercise, but do you know just how good it is for you?

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Swimming is the perfect summer sport: when the mercury rises, what better way to cool off than to take a refreshing dip? It doesn't matter whether it's at the beach, river or pool, the long sunny days are a perfect excuse to take to the water. But swimming isn't just fun and a great way to cool down, it's also very good for your health, and while you're splashing about, you're actually doing wonders for your body. Take a look at some of the reasons why swimming might be considered the best sport:

  • The buoyancy of the water counteracts the force of gravity, making swimming a perfect low-impact sport that puts little stress on bones and joints.
  • If you swim for at least 20 minutes straight, keeping up a constant rhythm and speed, it is an aerobic exercise, which helps improve general fitness, stimulates the metabolism and burns fat.
  • The fact that it's an aerobic exercise also means it improves cardiopulmonary capacity, while the effort needed to overcome water resistance tones muscles.
  • It's a great way to burn calories: an hour of swimming burns 500 calories.
  • Our body's natural position is upright, but when we swim, we turn it horizontally; this helps move respiratory secretions and improves breathing.
  • Swimming has been shown to be beneficial for asthma sufferers, as it encourages lung function and breathing control.
  • Swimming balances blood pressure and normalises pulse rate.
  • It works the body's motor coordination. Over two-thirds of the body musculature is worked when we swim, including both the lower and upper body, trunk and head, and arms and legs are forced to make a balanced effort.
  • Swimming also strengthens joints and improves posture by improving the position of the spinal column. This makes it an excellent exercise for people with back problems.
  • Last, but not least: anyone can do it. You don't have to be a great athlete for swimming to be beneficial – and fun, too – so come on in the water's lovely!

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