There are two types of people in the world: early risers, and normal people. I am going to be brutally honest here and admit that I am not an early riser. One of my primary motivations for becoming self-employed was so that I could set my own hours, and now I rarely wake up before noon. I am a night owl to my core.
Yet, I was once a young student as well, and to make matters worse, I was part of the swim team. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but I used to wake up at 6 am everyday 5 days a week and the first thing I’d do was swim for an hour. Nothing gets rid of the morning grogginess faster than diving into the swimming pool. So I feel like I have the lived experience to talk about the benefits of swimming in the morning.
Some of the benefits of swimming in the morning include giving yourself a nice energy boost and endorphin rush, strengthening your muscles and cardiovascular system, being able to catch the beautiful sunrise, and hanging out with a friend or pool regulars. It can be a pain to get started on a morning swim routine, but once you are in the habit of it, it can be a great way to start your day.
Let’s go over the various ways swimming in the morning can benefit you in more detail.
Top benefits of swimming in the morning
It wakes you right up
If you have trouble waking up out of that morning groggy state, you could drink a cup of coffee, or you can just take a dunk in the nice and refreshing water at the pool.
There is certainly an initial shock due to the cold, followed by a surge of energy as your brain immediately starts the process of not only waking up, but getting ready for intense exercise (more on what this entails in the next section). Turns out that other than being exposed to light, being exposed to cold temperatures can wake you right up.
Intuitively, it seems like exercising first thing in the morning would tire you out for the rest of the day. In practice, I (and many others) have found that doing morning exercises actually gives energy for the rest of the day (much like caffeine does). As mentioned, it immediately gets rid of the “brain fog” that most people take hours to get over before they are productive.
Swimming in the morning feels amazing because your brain produces endorphins during exercise, which is the feel good chemical that improves your mental state. Plus, you feel productive having gotten your daily exercise over with, and for me personally, it just feels like a load has already been taken off my shoulders before the day has even begun.
It’s good for your health
So how exactly does swimming get rid of the morning grogginess? What kind of black magic is going on behind the scenes that allows swimming to make you feel better after waking up at an ungodly hour in the morning to exercise?
For starters, when you are doing any kind of physical activity, oxygen and nutrients must quickly circulate your body to replenish the oxygen-deprived blood caused by exercise. Your heart and lungs are responsible for this, and regularly exercising will help improve your cardiovascular system’s efficiency so that they can do it much faster for longer, increasing your overall stamina.
As you may have heard, swimming burns about the same amount of calories as running does per unit of time, and is also great for muscle toning, weight loss and having a streamlined physique.
One unique aspect of swimming that makes it superior to many other sports is how low-impact it is. Many other sports are hard on your joints, but since swimming takes place in a nearly zero gravity environment, you can safely swim without aggravating your joints. Even people with arthritis can swim as their primary form of exercise. In the long run, your joints will thank you.
Witness breathtaking views
If you have an outdoor pool or live near the sea, then doing early morning open water swimming until the sun rises will take your breath away.
There’s something ethereal about the sight of steam drifting into the air from the calm surface of the water as the sun starts to peek over the horizon. At the risk of sounding corny, the only word I can think of that best describes this is “magical”.
This is the stuff that artists make paintings of. I once tried taking a video of the moment, but it didn’t do it justice. The featured image at the top of this article doesn’t do it justice. You have to be there to truly experience the majesty of witnessing the sun rise.
Hang out with others
If you’re still a student and part of a swim team, this is a great opportunity to strengthen your bonds with your teammates. When I was younger, I was able to build rapport and have great camaraderie by complaining about how I’d rather have an extra hour of sleep than be here. They’d usually laugh and say “same”, and we bonded over our mutual suffering. Turns out venting is a great way to make friends.
Even if you’re older or not part of a swim team, you can still go with a friend, family member, or try to make friends with the regulars at the pool. Maybe don’t initiate conversations by being a complainy-pants like I was (the success rate is lower outside of high school), but just the act of hanging out with someone is already a great bonding experience.
Going to the pool in the morning gives you ample opportunities to meet others, talk to them, and feel a sense of kinship. It’s kind of like if you ride a bus every morning and you start recognizing people everyday. Even if not a word is ever spoken, there is a sense of camaraderie between everyone. Even better if you actually do talk and get along.
Develop a healthy habit
Swimming has fantastic physical, mental, and social benefits. Doing it in the morning allows you to reap even more benefits by waking you up and giving you the energy you need to take on the rest of the day (all without caffeine, but you can combine the two as well).
At the very least, you can get your exercise over with first thing so you don’t have to worry about it later on. Besides, if you feel like you’ve been stuck in a rut, why not give this new routine a shot?
You never know, you might make the discovery that you’re actually an early riser. Even a night owl like me was able to reap some benefits swimming in the morning, and I’d imagine this is like a cheat code for people who actually love being up at the crack of dawn.
Some people prefer to go jogging or lift weights in the morning. However, if you don’t want your muscles to be aching later in the day, I’d say swimming is able to give you the greatest workout while simultaneously being the least damaging on your body.
The biggest problem with swimming in the morning is mustering up the willpower to actually get up and do it instead of hitting the snooze button 10 times each morning. It’s toughest at the beginning, but once you get used to it, you may find this is an invaluable routine that keeps you in shape and energized for the day ahead.