This Australian favourite could transform your health

What’s the one simple exercise that even a few sessions a week can transform your health?

It’s an Australian favourite, swimming of course and just two sessions a week could improve several body functions. 

Australia is a nation that by and large hugs the coastline, and as such we are a nation of swimmers.

You may not swim often, but you probably know how to swim. But maybe you should rethink the amount you swim, because your health could take a massive boost with even just a regular weekly swim.

The low-impact nature of swimming, plus controlled breathing makes the activity second to none for improving health. 

And we love it. It’s estimated more than 3.5 million people aged over 15 years old in Australia participated in swimming in 2023. 

Here’s just a few ways swimming can improve your health.


study produced by Swim England found swimming lowered the risk of early death by 28 overall and lowered the risk of death due to heart disease and stroke by 41 per cent. 

Swimmers even have lower mortality rates than runners, 

Heart to heart

Research shows swimming lowers resting blood pressure. 

“Swimming is a whole-body rhythmic and dynamic activity that raises your heart rate and reduces your blood pressure effectively,” Hirofumi Tanaka, co-author of multiple swimming-related studies and the director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin told National Geographic.

Weight loss

And then there is good old-fashioned weight loss. This study compared one group of middle-aged women swimmers to a group who didn’t swim and if found the body fat decreased in the swimming group. The swimming group also improved their flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.

According to MedicalNewsToday, it ‘torches’ kilojoules. A 75-kilogram person burns about 1770 kilojoules an hour while swimming at just a low or moderate pace. 

Even just treading water can burn up the fat. It’s estimated if your treading water at a high intensity, you can burn more than 1255 kilojoules in 30 minutes. 


Swimming uses just about every muscle in your body, considering different strokes and different types of water activities. 

It’s also an exercise for everyone. From little kids to older Aussies, there is a swimming activity out there for you. 

It also builds muscle strength and mass which is so important as we age. 

According to Betterhealth, muscle loses size and strength as we get older, which can contribute to fatigue, weakness and reduced tolerance to exercise. 

Maintaining muscle mass can improve balance – which reduces your risk of falls and hospitalisations – and reduce the risk of chronic disease and obesity.   

Improving sleep

Naturally with a bit of extra exercise, you will probably sleep better. It certainly works with kids. A big day at the pool and beach and my kids were out to it about an hour after we got home. 

Joint venture

It’s especially good for people who find weight-bearing exercising difficult such people suffering from obesity, exercise-induced asthma and orthopaedic injuries and disease.

Water pressure removes the strain on a person’s joints, so people with arthritis may find swimming the return to exercise they have been looking for. 

Swimming also stimulates blood circulation and makes your joints more flexible, all of which have been shown to improve arthritis symptoms. 

Warm water can also ease stiff joints and relax sore muscles. And it doesn’t have to be a vigorous swim, a session in a hydrotherapy pool may also support your treatment. 

Getting started

If it’s been a while since you were in the pool or beach, start small with a wade and a quick swim. As mentioned above, even treading water will burn some calories. 

Most larger swim centres have water aerobics sessions. Most of the participants are older and the pace is a bit gentler than normal aerobics simply because the water resistance requires it.

There is always just good old-fashioned lap swimming. Pools will have set lap times or you can just rock up and do a few laps. Busy pools always have a ‘slow’ lane. No judgment there, just get started. 

Also at my pool, many older people just use the hydrotherapy pool and spa. Maybe start off in these and do a few laps to cool down, gradually building up until you are doing more laps than sedentary pool time.

Are you a swimmer or have you considered taking it up? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Cold water swimming and other exercises to improve menopause

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


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