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By Nathalie Bonilla

Swimming toward your improved health

What is a low impact exercise that you could add to your weekly routine that would not only improve your health, but also lower your risk for heart disease? Any water-based exercise; swimming, water aerobics or aquatic workouts all provide an excellent way to improve the mind and body! As one of the top four most popular sports activity in the United States, swimming is easily one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise.

The benefits to getting your toes wet

Swimming at least two and a half hours a week has been linked to a decrease in chronic illnesses. Water offers a greater resistance to the body's movements than air does, allowing for low impact muscle strengthening. Pair this with the buoyancy water provides, and water-based exercises allow an individual to work out longer without tiring or experiencing pain.

Not only is swimming invaluable for one's physical health, but also it can help improve mental health as well. Exercise releases endorphins into the brain. This chemical is also known as the feel-good chemical. Along with this healthy dose of happy chemicals, the gentle current also offers the body some much needed relaxation and can help with anxiety and depression. Swimming in warmer waters can even improve one's general mood. Because of this, water-based exercises have been found to be extremely helpful for patients that suffer from fibromyalgia.

Who it can benefit

Because swimming is such a low impact activity, people of all ages can participate and gain from some pool time. Physical therapy utilizes these qualities to help people of any age and physical fitness level to improve flexibility, increase strength and reduce pain.

Expectant mothers are encouraged to include water-based exercises into their fitness routines. While allowing the mother to relax, it can also improve her mood while providing a full body workout; all of which are good for the growing unborn baby.

Perhaps especially during the summer, swimming can bring people together by offering a "cool" and fun environment. But even in an indoor pool, it can provide every member of a family with the exercise their bodies need, working off 400 to 500 calories per hour. Children who swim are healthier than those who do not, and adults can lower their risk for obesity-related disease including diabetes.

Families with children who have disabilities have found that swimming is very positive for them. Not only does it provide that crucial bit of exercise in a fun way, but it also brings the family together, allowing for family bonding.

While performing laps is not for everyone, there are still ways to benefit from being in the water. Simply walking through the pool or swimming in place can also deliver the same benefits to an individual. The local gym with a pool might offer water aerobics classes if you are looking to work out as part of a group.

Swimming is a great, fun way to exercise your body and improve your overall physical and mental health. It is a great tool for someone at any age looking to improve his or her physical fitness and is also the perfect excuse to bring the family together to improve everyone's overall health.

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