Swimming is often perceived as a leisurely type of sports practiced by elderly people. However, swimming is not just good for our muscles and our mental well-being, but it also has a rejuvenating effect on our cells. That’s why we are saying: Get into the water and turn back the aging of your cells!
Our telomeres – those protective caps at the extreme ends of our chromosomes – play a major role in determining how old our cells will get and when they will die or fall sick. Because they are getting shorter with each cell division. Once they reach a critically short length, the cell stops dividing and starts dying. Telomerase, an enzyme which rebuilds our telomeres, will make telomeres increase in length again and it, you might say so, “turns back” our biological clock.
How does that work? The two most important proven factors for telomere elongation are the right diet and physical exercise. However, not every type of sport has the same effect. Several studies showed that strength training does not have any effect on our telomeres while regular interval and endurance training increases the telomerase activity which does not only help to protect our telomeres but even ensures that they will gain in length again!
In a word this means: Regular endurance sports and interval training can affect our cell aging process! And this is where swimming comes in.
Swimming is one of the best types of endurance sports because it requires a significant physical effort without putting strain on our joints such as is the case when jogging, for example.
Apart from just these joint-friendly aspects, swimming provides many more benefits:
1. Swimming exercises the entire body
When swimming we exercise each group of muscles – depending on the type of stroke! The uniform movements, the physical effort required to work against the resistance of the water and the struggle to keep balance inside the water strengthen each muscle inside our body and gives us stamina!
2. Swimming strengthens the cardiovascular system
As is the case for most types of endurance sport, the steady and consistent strain on all parts of our body strengthens the circulation and lowers our heart rate! A positive side effect is that our body is better protected against diseases and our immune system is strengthened.
3. Swimming reduces stress
The feeling of “weightlessness” inside the water and the rhythmic movements trigger the reduction of stress hormones in many people and help them to relax! Since the water and the movements can also release tenseness in the neck and shoulders, swimming almost guarantees complete relief and relaxation!
4. Swimming is fun
Even though it might not be considered an immediate positive physical effect, swimming definitely also has an impact on our mind – because swimming is fun! Floating in the water, chilling, enjoying the day on an air mattress, what better could you think of?
It all depends on the right technique
So, if you consider devoting yourself to swimming, there is almost nothing there to keep you from it! Since you hardly need any equipment for swimming, you can get started right away. As for all sports, however, there are certain safety aspects you should consider here, too.
Familiarize yourself with the different swimming techniques – be it breaststroke or crawl, obtain the right information on how to move your arms, legs and neck correctly. This will save you from adverse strain on your muscles and will help you to move more efficiently and safely through the water.
If you are a complete beginner: Join a swimming course! A lot of times there is much more behind swimming as a sport as you may think. Since water always presents a certain risk, it is all the more important to know how to keep afloat!
If you are ready to start swimming as a sport, make sure to listen to your body and to know your limits. Since doing sports inside the water provides some type of permanent “cooling”, we don’t realize how much we sweat and how exhausted we already are. Take it easy and take care not to overdo the strain on your body!
We can hardly wait to dive into the water! Swimming will increase the feeling of well-being, strengthen the cardiovascular system and reduce stress hormones while even protecting our joints! And do you know what’s best? Since swimming is an endurance sport, it even has an effect on our telomeres and telomerase and makes our cells rejuvenate. What are you still waiting for?