Swimming is better for you than any other land activity – yes, even running

By Alex Theriot
For Unwind magazine

Balancing school, internships and social activities can certainly impact your physical and mental health. With so much going on, sneaking in a workout can be a challenge all of its own, but finding time for a quick dip in this university’s aquatic centers may reap more benefits than your typical Eppley Recreation Center workout.

How It Works

Bucknell University lists three reasons why water based exercise is more beneficial than dry land exercise:

The first reason is water’s unique buoyancy property. Buoyancy is the reason one’s body floats when submerged in water. This property reduces the impact on joints and bones when compared to running because the body is in continual motion. Therefore, no consistent pounding on hard surfaces takes place.

Water based exercise provides continual resistance while in the pool. According to Bucknell, the water offers between 12 and 14 percent more resistance than exercise on land. The more resistance present during the exercise, the more the muscles in the body work together, creating the perfect workout to burn fat without damaging the joints and ligaments attached to the muscles.

Exercising in water not only trains the body to work harder, but there is never a risk of the body overheating. Because water disperses heat more efficiently, the water continuously cools the body, according to Bucknell University.  To some, exercise in the water is cooler and more comfortable than it is on land.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that just two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity, such as swimming, could decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. The CDC also reported that water-based exercise can decrease anxiety, decrease depression and improve mood.

Bucknell University listed several physical, social and psychological benefits of engaging in water activities.

Exercising regularly in the pool can improve flexibility and strength and build up endurance all while increasing circulation and muscular balance.

Socially, swimming for both exercise and competitive reasons can build upon a team environment, pushing one to swim the extra mile.

“I like that it is a team sport and it’s also individual, but you don’t feel like you’re by yourself,” junior biology major Kristin Mesmer said. “You still have the support of everyone cheering around you.”

Mesmer has been swimming competitively on and off since second grade.

Passing through water also has soothing effects on the mind. For some, getting a few laps in is a great stress-reliever and tension-releaser.

The Downside

While swimming provides a lot of benefits other sports or training exercises cannot, swimming also poses its own challenges to getting in a proper work out.

For one, a pool is almost always needed, which can be tricky for scheduling quick workouts.

“Running is something you can do at anytime, you don’t need any equipment,” said junior community health major Liana Stiegler, who has trained to run half-marathons and other long-distance races. “Running is one of the simplest, cheapest forms of exercise and you can go at anytime.”

Chlorine, a chemical often used to keep aquatic facilities sanitary, may also dry out skin if the proper moisturizers are not applied afterward. It is also important to remember to clean one’s ears after swimming with bacteria-fighting solutions, like rubbing alcohol, in order to prevent ear infections.

Swimming laps provides a healthy balance of cardio and strength training, perfect for switching up your exercise and daily routine.

This university has two aquatic facilities that are open to students daily.


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