1. A weight off your shoulders
There’s a reason why most people enjoy bobbing around in the pool on holiday; taking a load off those weary muscles feels good! Water’s buoyancy counteracts the effects of gravity, reducing pressure on your body’s weight-bearing joints, and alleviating stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments. As a result, swimming can help reduce the injuries most commonly associated with pounding pavements.
If you’re fretting about the impact of the street on your joints, start by swapping one of your weekly runs for a session in the pool.
2. Water wings
Now we’re not saying you’ll be able to fly, but according to a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, those who added regular swimming training to their routine over a period of 10 weeks improved their running time over 3.2k by 13 seconds. That’s a considerable leap forward in performance.
3. Take a breath
Because most swim strokes require held or staccato breaths, swimming helps to improve cardiovascular performance, as you force your body to work with the oxygen it has. According to the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine in Science, after just 12 sessions of swimming with controlled breathing, 18 subjects showed a 6% increase in running economy.
4. It’s hard to resist
Given water is 800% denser than air, swimming is the finest form of resistance training you could hope for. Training aids like the Speedo Elite Kick Board will help you isolate your legs; the constant flutter-kicking will help develop strong calves and strengthen the muscles around your joints, providing more driving power in your legs.
5. Recover like a pro
Even the professionals take to the pool to reap the benefits of swimming, especially when it comes to recovering from big efforts. A study called “Effects of a recovery swim on subsequent running performance” in the International Journal of Sports Medicine revealed that a swimming-based recovery session enhanced following day exercise performance when compared to passive recovery, so a few easy lengths in the pool between runs could see you mastering those DOMS and getting back on the track sharpish.