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The beneficial effects of swimming on the physiological state of the body, its systems and organs have long been proven and it is now used as a part of the treatment and prevention plan for many health disorders. Thus, swimming is one of the universally recognized methods of cardiovascular disease prevention. Being a type of aerobic exercise, swimming is believed to lower the risk of coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis by reducing the systemic inflammation which can provoke these conditions.
Systematic swimming exercises result in the improvement of the condition of the cardiovascular system:
The heart starts working more efficiently (swimming increases its strength, stroke volume and reduces heart rate);
Peripheral circulation is improved;
The condition of blood vessels and nutrition of all tissues and body organs are improved as well;
Blood pressure gets normalized.
So how does swimming work?
Lowered Blood Pressure
When the body is in its vertical position, like during such activities as hiking, jogging, walking or biking, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through arteries to and from the body's periphery. Such increased load on the organ provokes spikes in blood pressure that can be rather concerning. As for swimming, it provides load on the cardiovascular system without promoting significant blood pressure increases. During swimming the body is in a horizontal position, so there is no need for the heart to work as hard and that helps to control blood pressure. Moreover, swimming encourages the blood vessels to remain elastic and flexible which also helps the blood pressure to stay within normal range.
Better Heart Contractility
The American Council of Exercise claims that swimming is highly beneficial for the improvement of heart contractility - the ability of the heart muscle to squeeze and relax resulting in pumping blood from the heart to other body parts. As contractility improves the supply of oxygen and blood increases as well, making it easier for the body to perform everyday activities.
Decreased Heart Rate
Swimming can effectively lower the resting heart rates. A low resting heart rate is generally associated with less work on the heart muscle and that can be useful for the prevention of certain types of cardiovascular disease. Swimming not only causes decreased resting heart rates but it can also lead to heart rate drop during exercise. Researchers claim that such drops in heart rate related to activity can let the body perform even greater amounts of work while the stress on the heart muscle is less.
To maximize swimming benefits, factors such as exercise technique, intensity and duration have to be considered. Experts say that swimmers can benefit from several 30-minute sessions each week. Ideally, swimming should increase the heart rate to about 60-80% maximum capacity for it to sufficiently work out the muscle.