The Sleep and Health Benefits of Swimming

Swimming is the fourth most popular sport activity in the US, and the benefits of swimming go far beyond working the body from head to toe. Swimming is a great workout for people with injuries, and the health benefits of swimming can include a better night's sleep. Exercise, in general, is known to improve sleep quality as it decreases stress, improves energy balance, and increases the body's feel-good hormones. Swimming helps to improve mood, manage anxiety and stress, and even ease pain associated with certain health conditions, such as arthritis, dementia, and osteoarthritis—all of which can lead to better sleep.

One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep involves a day complete with some form of exercise or physical activity. Whether you enjoy hiking, practicing yoga, or walking, daily activity and movement are a wonderful way to ensure a comfortable and cozy night of sleep. Another fantastic exercise that comes with sleep benefits is swimming. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming is the fourth most popular sport activity in the US, and it’s no wonder why. The benefits of swimming go far beyond working your body from head to toe. Besides being a great workout for people with injuries, the health benefits of swimming can also include a better night’s sleep.

This article will answer the question of what are the benefits of swimming as well as explore how a regular swimming routine can help to improve your sleep. Consider this another nugget of sleep wisdom to help you achieve sleep enlightenment, aka your best night of sleep ever. (Your REM cycle will thank you.)

Benefits of swimming for sleep and health

In general, exercise is known to improve sleep quality because it decreases stress, improves energy balance, and increases the body’s feel-good hormones. Based on existing research, there’s solid evidence that exercise can help you fall asleep faster and improve your overall sleep quality, notes John Hopkins Medicine.

In fact, a 2017 systematic review published in the journal Advances in Preventive Medicine notes there is mounting evidence that physical exercise is an effective intervention for those who don’t experience adequate sleep quantity or quality. 

So what about swimming? What are the benefits of swimming for better sleep? Are there any specific health benefits of swimming that can help to improve the quality of your sleep?

Swimming has been shown to help improve mood, manage anxiety and stress, and even ease pain associated with certain health conditions, such as arthritisdementia, and osteoarthritis—all of which can lead to better sleep.

“Better sleep can result from swimming because it is a form of exercise that promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and releases endorphins,” shares Tonya Mcintosh, personal trainer at TGFFitness. “Swimming also works various muscle groups gently, helping to ease tension and discomfort that may affect sleep. Moreover, the water’s cooling effect during exercise assists in regulating body temperature, contributing to deeper, more restful sleep.”

How to make swimming part of your routine

After learning about the many health benefits of swimming, you might be wondering: How can you incorporate swimming into your regular routine for improved sleep?

A few suggestions:

  • According to the International Sports Sciences Association, if you’re new to swimming or haven’t swum in a while, take your time to build up fitness and good form. Start simple with easy intervals of 30 seconds or one length of the pool. Take a break in between and repeat up to 10 times. See how you feel and adjust your next workout accordingly.
  • Ask your current gym if you can reserve a lap lane to swim laps once or twice a week. If you’re not a current member of a gym, join one with a pool for swimming laps. If the climate and weather allow, pick a convenient outdoor facility or pool then set regular swim sessions and commit to them.
  • Establish realistic goals to monitor your progress and help you stay motivated.
  • Find a partner or join a swim club or group so you can meet others in a swim community that sets up weekly swim sessions together. Mcintosh says this is a great option for additional encouragement, motivation, and support as well.
  • Vary your workouts with different strokes for different days.

FAQs

What are the top benefits of swimming?

Swimming is a great low-impact, full-body workout for those with joint, mobility, or pain issues. Other health benefits of swimming include better mood, decreased anxiety and stress levels, and improved sleep. Mcintosh adds a few more health benefits of swimming including boosted muscle strength and endurance, enhanced cardiovascular fitness, improved flexibility, and joint mobility.

Why do I sleep so well after swimming?

One of the biggest benefits of swimming is that it may lead to a better night’s sleep due to its combination of physical exertion and relaxation, shares Mcintosh. Why does swimming help you sleep? “Swimming is a great exercise that tires the body and releases endorphins for relaxation,” she explains. “Additionally, swimming works the entire body gently, easing tension and discomfort, which contributes to deeper, more restorative sleep.”

How long do you need to swim to get a good workout?

“Swimming workout duration depends on personal fitness levels, goals, and time constraints,” says Mcintosh. “Beginners can benefit from a 20-30 minute session, while more experienced swimmers may swim for 45-60 minutes or longer. The focus should be on finding a challenging, sustainable workout duration within your routine. Consistency and gradual progress are more important than attempting overly long sessions.”

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