Swimming isn’t the most popular way to stay in shape, but maybe it should be – especially for men. According to research carried out at the University of South Carolina, swimming is a better exercise for men than walking or running for health and longevity. Find out why.
Benefits of Swimming: Is Swimming Better Than Walking?
According to this study that looked at 40,000 adult men of all ages from early adulthood to the elderly, swimming to stay fit cut overall mortality by half compared to walking and running. This was true even when researchers controlled for other lifestyle factors such as smoking diet, BMI, age, family history and other factors which would affect mortality risk.
Not only was mortality rate lower among male swimmers, they also had better lung capacity and cardiovascular function than men who walked to stay in shape. This isn’t surprising since swimming uses multiple muscles simultaneously, which causes the heart and lungs to work harder. They didn’t compare cardiovascular and lung fitness of runners with swimmers, but running is also a good form of cardiovascular fitness.
Other benefits of swimming? Swimming is the best exercise for people with injuries and joint-related issues. The buoyancy of the water reduces stress on muscles and joints, and it’s a safe way to exercise if you have a stress fracture, sprain or other injury – but still talk to your doctor first if you’ve been injured.
There are some drawbacks to swimming. Not everyone has access to a temperature-controlled pool year round, and swimming isn’t a skill that everyone excels at. Still, most YMCA’s offer access to an indoor pool at a reasonable cost – and they also provide swimming instruction.
Walking vs. Swimming: Should Men Give Up Walking and Start Swimming?
Why not cross-train? Walk or run and swim on alternate days. This lowers the risk of overuse injuries and reduces workout monotony. It also keeps your body guessing so you’re less likely to hit a fitness plateau. Swimming takes the stress off of your joints, while still giving your heart, lungs and muscles a workout. That it reduces mortality too is icing on the cake.
The Bottom Line?
Even if you love walking or walking, try swimming two days a week to give your joints, muscles, tendons and bones a break. It’s a good stress reliever too. Take a dive – right into the pool for a great workout.
Club Industry. “Study Finds Swimming Cuts Men’s Mortality Risk in Half”
Merck Manual. Eighteenth edition. 2006.