Swimming, more than any other type of exercise, requires technical training to be done properly. Most people can walk and running is a natural extension of walking quickly. There are some technical details of running form that can be improved in nearly every runner, but by-and-large you can go out and run regardless of your skill level or training. Swimming, you need to know how, to a certain point or you’ll die. After that certain point, you need to have enough skills to move through the water effectively, or you’ll be wasting your time. First disclaimer: You shouldn’t exercise at a high intensity every day. Give yourself a day off every microcycle to allow your body to recover. Assuming you are trained enough to swim properly (let’s set that bar at being able to swim freestyle for several laps, with or without flipturns). Depending on how fast you swim, you’ll have muscular strength benefits to your upper body and normal, cardiovascular benefits.
Your upper body is used primarily in swimming. If you start from an untrained baseline, you’ll see some initial growth in your biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles. You may also feel some soreness from your abdominal muscles, particularly if you do a significant amount of butterfly kicks. Depending on how hard you kick, you will develop strength in your hips as well. After a week or two of growth, you won’t grow as much, but will continue to build up type I muscle fiber endurance in these areas. With added exercise you will burn more energy throughout the day, but unless you compensate with caloric intake below what you’re burning, you won’t lose any fat. Swimming is low impact on your joints. On the plus side, if they’re already hurting from cartilage wear
These are fairly straightforward and geared to creating more efficient oxygen and carbon dioxide transfer from the lungs and bloodstream and from your muscles in your body.
- Increased capillaries in the lungs around the alveoli
- Increased capillary content around the muscles most heavily utilized
- Increased alveoli activation
- Increased red blood cell count
- Increased blood volume
- Increased heart efficiency and pumping volume
There are some neurological benefits that go along with cardiovascular fitness:
- Increased hippocampus size, which aids in stress management and short term memory management
- Increased capillary content in the brain aiding in blood flow
- Endorphin release helping your mood.
All of this of course depends on enough pressure being placed on the systems in question. If they’re not stressed enough, you won’t grow. Work hard and they will, putz around and they won’t.
One final effect of swimming everyday: You’ll smell a little like chlorine and start to love the smell of bleach.