Guest Article by Becky: Swimming For a Healthier Heart

Hey guys,

My friend Becky Flanigan, who already wrote a guest post about Aqua Aerobics for my blog, came up with a new idea that could be interesting for you (especially if you don't work out regularly or if you have/want to avoid trouble with your cardiovascular system). I know that activities in the water are really beneficial for your health but I am not an expert in the field of water activities. Therefore I'm proud to present you Becky's new article about how swimming could lead to a healthier heart:

My Dad was an athlete in college, and was always in great shape. Then he took a job as a salesman. That meant a lot of time sitting, either in the office, or at lunches with clients. He started having blood pressure problems, and it concerned me. I did some research and told him all about how swimming could make his heart stronger.

The best advantage of water. Everyone knows that swimming is a super form of exercise. But something I didn’t know – the resting heart rate is 10 beats per minute slower just being in the water, and the max heart rate can be from 10 to 30 beats per minute slower. There’s not a definitive answer on why this happens, but it is believed that the lower gravity, and the lower temperature of the water causes this effect. The bonus for swimmers is that while performing a vigorous workout that is guaranteed to strengthen the heart, they’re putting less stress on their heart. Here are some of the resources I found with more details:

· Health Benefits of Water-Based Exercise

· Take The Plunge For Your Heart

· Heart Health & Swimming Pools

Less risk of heart disease. One article I read stated that heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is the number 1 killer in America. Over a million people a year suffer heart attacks. That’s a great reason to strengthen your heart. Many of the heart related problems occur because plaque begins to build up and constrict the walls of the arteries. This makes it more difficult for blood to flow, and if a large blood clot gets stuck in one of those arteries with smaller blood flow, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Even a small amount of exercise in the pool – and for short periods of time – can help improve the strength of the heart. By training the body to use oxygen more efficiently, it leads to a lower resting heart rate.

Swimming to reduce stress. My Dad has a stressful job, there’s no doubt of that. His doctor has told him the job contributes to his blood pressure problems. The doctor told him he needed more exercise. But while he ran track in college, his knees have been acting up the last couple of years. I suggested that one of the benefits of swimming is low impact – it wouldn’t affect his knees like trying to go out and start running. Besides, when I’ve gone swimming, there is a really soothing element to being in the water. The buoyancy of the water provides a lightness that I enjoy. When I’m swimming, outside noises are muted, and I just get into a rhythm where all I think about is the next stroke. My Dad liked the sound of all of that.

Start slowly if you’re new to swimming. Most of the research I did recommends that beginners start slowly – swimming is a vigorous form of exercise. The starting level is around 5 to 10 minutes of smooth lap swimming. Once that time becomes comfortable, swimming for longer periods will come around as the endurance builds. Trying different strokes – the freestyle, backstroke, or side stroke, can work different muscles.

See the impact. My Dad finally took my advice, and started swimming at the community pool when the lap lanes were open. He groaned about having to go at first, now he really looks forward to his swim sessions. I have seen his stress levels go down as he has continued. When he gets home after a swim, he is smiling, looks alive and energetic, and is looking forward to work the next day. He looked at me when I came over the other night, and just smiled and gave me a big thumbs up. He didn’t even say anything, but I knew what it was about.

Becky Flanigan writes for, and focuses on kids, parenting, exercise and health. She is avid about her workouts, which range from aqua jogging to marathon training. She and her husband Ed also enjoy entertaining and traveling with their three kids.

I hope you liked Becky's article! Feel free to share your thoughts down in the comment area.