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Why swimming is ideal recovery exercise

April 06 2022 6 min read

Dealing with muscle pain and soreness? Coming back from an injury? Or are you simply a gym newbie and looking to have some fun? Swimming is the perfect sport to jump into and find your fitness groove. It’s great cardio and gets your heart pumping, but, unlike running, lifting weights or other high-intensity workouts, it’s low-impact so your joints will be well looked after.

Whether you’re swimming laps or splashing around in a group class, taking to the water is – quite literally – one of the coolest things to do this summer. Now, who’s ready to dive in?

Swimming has many benefits – it can be an intensive cardiovascular workout, tones the whole body from top to toe, helps build stamina, and burns lots of calories. You don’t have to be the next Michael Phelps to get all the advantages – swimming is a sport that you can enjoy at any age. Swimming can also be relaxing and therapeutic if you’re recovering from injury too.


According to a study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine, swimming is one of the best recovery techniques around. Researchers at the University of Western Australian monitored triathletes and saw they recorded considerably better running times after going for a recovery swim. The study also showed that swimming as part of recovery produced lower levels of c-reactive protein, which is linked to muscle inflammation.

Even if you’re not a triathlete, swimming is a common rehabilitation method for injuries such as back pain, torn ligaments and surgery. Swimming isn’t a weight-bearing activity – the buoyancy of the water supports your body weight, which releases the pressure. Different strokes can alleviate pain in different ways; in particular, backstroke is the best option for back pain. All strokes are an active form of stretching, working your arm muscles, quads, calves and engaging your core. Injury can often cause the muscles to seize up, so slowly swimming laps and alternating strokes will keep your muscles loose and flexible.

Swimming doesn’t just necessarily mean doing laps. There are a myriad of activities you can do in the water, such as aqua aerobics, water biking and diving and even yoga. If you’re not a strong swimmer, along with aqua classes Fitness First also offers 30-60 minute swimming lessons with Swimming Nature at selected gyms, including some of our central London gyms. Whether you need a refresher in the basics or simply want to improve your technique, our qualified instructors will be there with you every stroke you take.

And let’s not forget one of the best parts about swimming – it’s a great way to cool down! If you’re a member at one of our gyms equipped with a state of the art swimming pool, you’re more than welcome to go for a quick dip after your workout to relax, float around and get in a little water therapy. You can find your local Fitness First pool here.