Fitness Friday: Swimming – Flow With the Waves & Breath

Swimming Flow With the Waves & Breath

All the Basics: 

Swimming is a popular low-impact workout which can be done as a team or individual sport worldwide. It's one of the most popular workouts and one of the most ancient workouts. 

Swimming can be done in a pool, in the ocean, in a lake or any body of water for that manner. It can be done both recreationally and competitively. Common swimming strokes include freestyle, butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke. 

Typical gear required for swimming can include a bathing suit, goggles and flippers for snorkeling or scuba diving. 

Some swimming ability is required for stand-up paddleboarding and SUP yoga

Muscle Groups Worked: 

While each stroke uses different muscle groups to execute different techniques, all swimming strokes work: 

  • Core abdominal and lower back muscles
  • Deltoid and shoulder muscles
  • Forearm muscles
  • Upper back muscles 
  • Glutes and hamstring muscles 

During the backstroke, the pectoral and Latissimus dorsi muscles are also used, as well as the quadriceps (My Active SG).

Since swimming strengthens the core as well as the shoulders and the back, it also improves the posture. 

Swimming is considered weight or resistance training.

Having good posture keeps you straighter in the water in a streamline position. This means you will use less energy for the same distance.

Like yoga, the breath in swimming is timed and precise. Since taking in air is limited in volue and frequency, it promotes greater lung capacity and a consistent intake of oxygen. 

Origin + History: 

For recreation, swimming has been recorded since prehistoric times. The earliest records of swimming date back to the Stone Age painting from around 10,000 years ago. Some of the earliest references to swimming include the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Bible, Beowulf, The Quran along with a ton of others. 

Swimming began as a competitive recreational activity in the 1830s in England. From there its popularity took off worldwide. 

It became part of the Olympic games in 1896 in Athens. 

How It Can Help Your Yoga Practice: 

Since swimming increases core strength and general muscular strength, it can positively influence your yoga practice. Like yoga, it lengthens the muscles and increases flexibility. 

Like yoga, it is calming and can help clear the mind. It also is an exercise, like yoga, that helps connect breath to motion and the exercise itself allows the practitioner to flow through the water with the breath. 

Benefits of Swimming: 

Swimming is a healthy workout that can be done for a lifetime and can truly be practiced by anyone. It builds endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness.

The US Census Bureau reports that two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity such as swimming can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. It is linked to better cognitive function, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, lower risk of high blood pressure, and lower risk of stroke.

In general, people are able to exercise longer in water than on land without increased effort, and minimal joint or muscle pain.

Where to Find It: 

Swimming is an easy activity to find throughout the world. Swim in any clean body of water or attend a pool. 

Photo Cred: Henry Söderlund

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