Harvard researchers agree this is the best exercise ever

This article was updated on July 30, 2021.

Though the skateboarders and their awesome fashion are getting a lot of attention at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, everyone is still fascinated by swimming. Though most of us will never be as great as Olympians Katie Ledecky or Ryan Murphy, we should still consider making swimming part of our daily lives. According to research from Harvard, it is one of the best workouts ever and can keep you in good shape well into old age.

Why swimming?

The workout that may keep you in peak health well into the golden years is one of the simplest. The only equipment you need is a swimming pool (or pond, or lake or ocean) and hopefully a swimsuit.

According to a 2017 study by Swim England, swimmers have a 28% lower risk of early death and a 41% lower risk of death as a result of stroke or heart disease.”Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing,” Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told Harvard Health.  Here is why it works so well.

It is a full-body workout

“While calorie expenditure during swimming depends on many different factors, the average person swimming freestyle at a moderate intensity will burn 500-550 calories an hour,” Dr. Samuel Chan, DPT, ATC, CSCS, told PopSugar. 

It is low impact

It is great if you are nursing an injury or are just sick of pounding your bones against the pavement. And as you age, this will be particularly useful on those bones but at the same time, you will build muscle which keeps you healthier.

It is great for your lungs

Breathing is so nice, right? Well, you need your lungs to stay in tip-top shape for that and swimming helps. Research finds a strong link between stronger lung capacity and swimmers. 

Swimming has mental health benefits

Looking to reduce stress? Take a swim. A study found that when rats swam they actually generated new brain cells which helped to replaced the ones that had been weakened due to stress (this is called hippocampal neurogenesis.) Swimming also boosts blood flow to the brain so you can think more clearly. Outdoor Voices CEO Tyler Haney actually goes to a public pool every morning before work. “I think of it as priming myself for the day,” she told CNBC. “I have to work out in the morning.”

Studies have also shown that swimming helps with depression, helps release tension and anxiety and promotes over all self-worth and happiness. Who needs Disney World when you can just splash around in the pool?