Health Benefits of Swimming for All
Swimming is an excellent low-impact sport that people of all ages can enjoy. Regular swimming can help to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, aide in weight loss, and increase lung capacity among other benefits. To learn more about how swimming can help in various aspects of your life, you can visit the following sites:
- Cardiovascular: Visit Harvard’s web page on swimming and heart health at http://www.health.harvard.edu/family-health-guide/take-the-plunge-for-your-heart
- Muscle: Active SG discusses the muscles used in swimming at https://www.myactivesg.com/sports/swimming/how-to-play/did-you-know/what-muscle-groups-do-swimming-develop
- Weight loss: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how many calories swimming and other physical activity can burn at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html
- Lung capacity: North Carolina State University discusses how aerobic activity can increase lung capacity at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hhb/hhb5-1.htm
- Other benefits: Bucknell University gets into the many benefits of swimming at http://www.bucknell.edu/athletics/recreation-services/swimming-information.html
Learning to swim can help to improve a child’s emotional and physical wellbeing in addition to increasing their level of safety around water. The physical activity helps children to stay energetic and develop exercise habits, which can follow them throughout their lives. Learning to swim can improve their self-esteem and confidence, especially around water.
To learn more, you can visit:
- Livestrong’s article on the benefits of swimming for youth at http://www.livestrong.com/article/148394-what-are-the-benefits-of-swimming-for-kids/
- Health.gov’s guidelines on youth activity at http://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter3.aspx
Adults can benefit through balancing out uneven muscle strength, maintaining weight, destressing, and improving heart health as well as stamina. Even if you never swam much as a child, it is not too late to start. Most public and club owned pools offer swimming lessons for adults of all skill levels.
- To find a local swimming or water safety class, you can visit the Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/swimming.
- To learn more about the safety benefits of swimming for adults, you can visit the World Aquatic Health Conference at https://www.thewahc.org/session/benefits-adult-learn-swim-programs
As long as your doctor says it is okay, swimming is a gentle and low-impact way to safely get exercise and increase your core muscles during pregnancy, which can potentially lead to an easier birthing process. Many health benefits come with swimming, and during pregnancy is no exception.
To learn more about prenatal swimming, visit:
- Wake Forest Baptist Health’s article at https://prescriptions.wakehealth.edu/patient-reswources/library/643938/swimming-during-pregnancy
- KidsHealth’s article on exercise during pregnancy at http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/exercising-pregnancy.html
- Health Guidance’s article at http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15784/1/Swimming-During-Pregnancy.html
Not only is swimming good for your general health, but it can actually prevent falls in some cases. Swimming teaches the body to find its own center of gravity and that improves our ability to stay on our feet, even outside of the water. This is vitally important because as we age our falls can lead to more serious injuries and breaks.
To learn more, visit:
- NIH Senior Health at http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseforolderadults/healthbenefits/01.html
- Live Science at http://www.livescience.com/48336-swimming-best-exercise-older-adults.html
Illnesses and Medical Conditions
In addition to improving our overall health, swimming can also benefit those of us suffering from some common conditions. It turns out that swimming is more than just splashing around in the pool!
- To learn about some of the conditions that swimming can help with, visit Michigan State University at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/benefits_of_swimming_for_physical_activity
Swimming is one of the few sports in which even people with chronic pain can participate. The low-impact nature and buoyancy of water can help to support painful ligaments, joints, and muscles while providing a calming experience.
- To learn about how swimming can help with back pain, visit Doctor Luis Fando’s page at http://drluisfandos.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2015/07/01/is-swimming-good-for-back-pain/
- To see the pain reducing benefits of swimming and other activities for Lupus and Fibromyalgia patients, visit the Hospital for Special Surgery at https://www.hss.edu/conditions_lupus-and-fibromyalgia.asp
Swimming can reduce joint pain while increasing both strength and flexibility in patients with arthritis. While the idea may seem daunting at first, the long-term benefits are hard to deny.
To learn more, visit:
- The Mayo Clinic at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971
- Texas Education at http://magazine.edb.utexas.edu/making-waves-the-benefits-of-swimming-on-aging-populations/
Exercise, including swimming, can help to stave off illnesses such as Alzheimer’s for longer than if a person were to remain inactive. In addition, swimming and other familiar activities can be comforting ways to spend time together for Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones.
To learn more on how exercise can help, visit:
- The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at http://www.alzprevention.org/lifestyle-choices-about-physical-activities.php
- The Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute at http://www.wai.wisc.edu/resources/patients_and_caregivers/caregiving_tips.html#exercise
Parkinson’s patients can benefit from the strength building aspect of spending time in the water. This type of exercise can reduce the risk of falls, which are particularly common among people who suffer from the condition.
To learn more, visit:
- The Parkinson's Disease Clinic and Research Center at http://pdcenter.neurology.ucsf.edu/patients-guide/exercise-and-physical-therapy#What_about_swimming_
- The American Parkinson’s Disease Association at http://stlapda.org/content/pdfs/Booklet_Aquatic_Exercises_For_Parkinson_Disease.pdf
Cancer and Chemo Therapy
Exercise, such as swimming, can help to get the heart pumping and reduce some of the fatigue of cancer treatment as well as help the body to maintain some strength and begin the process of regaining health. While it may be difficult to focus on in the moment, your whole health needs to be worked on after a cancer diagnosis.
To learn more about the benefits of exercise during and after cancer treatment, visit:
- The University of Pennsylvania at http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/news_releases/2010/05/cancer-exercise-guidelines/
- The National Comprehensive Cancer Network at https://www.nccn.org/patients/resources/life_with_cancer/exercise.aspx
Exercise is an excellent way to combat depression, while the tranquility of swimming can lead to peace of mind. Getting moving is important when experiencing depression, but it is often the hardest part. Swimming offers an easy and gradual way to plunge right in.
To learn more about how to combat depression with exercise, visit:
- Truman State University at http://trufit2.truman.edu/depression/tips-for-fighting-depression/
- Boston University at http://www.bu.edu/today/2010/exercise-the-other-antidepressant/
Heart Conditions and High Blood Pressure
Exercise that gets the heart going can help to improve its condition. Swimming laps, or any consistent swimming, can help to get the pulse up to a level that is beneficial to conditioning the heart muscle. Regular exercise has also been shown to help in reducing blood pressure, so a regular swimming routine can be a great value to your health.
- To learn about cardiovascular exercise, visit the University of Akron at https://www.uakron.edu/srws/aquatics/water-exercise.dot
- To learn about ways to reduce high blood pressure (including swimming), visit The University of Illinois at http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/blood_pressure_factors.html
Swimming, especially with equipment that is intended to cause additional resistance, can assist in improving overall quality of muscular health and lead to less falls, and thus potentially less breaks. However, if you are looking for an activity that increases bone density, then walking, weight lifting or aerobics should be added to your exercise routine.
- To learn more, visit Texas Woman’s University at http://www.twu.edu/inspire/osteoporosis.asp
- To learn more about osteoporosis, visit the University of Maryland Medical Center at http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/osteoporosis
Swimming can help to improve focus, mental effort, self-monitoring, and inhibition, all of which can be difficult areas for people with ADHD. The behaviors and techniques learned through swimming can offer an advantage for people with ADHD in their day-to-day lives. This can help to create overall and lasting improvement in some cases.
To learn more about how swimming can help, visit:
- The United States Swim Schools Association at http://www.usswimschools.org/images/library/1276641630_ADHD%20&%20Swimming.pdf
- Inside ADHD at http://www.insideadhd.org/Article.aspx?id=1394
Diet and exercise are an important component of a healthy lifestyle for diabetics, especially for those with Type 2 diabetes. It is a great way to burn extra calories while building muscle. As with any exercise program, speak to your doctor before starting!
To learn more about how exercise can help control diabetes, visit:
- Princeton at http://www.princeton.edu/healthier/docs/DiabetesEmail-3.pdf
- The Joslin Diabetes Center at http://www.joslin.org/info/exercising-with-diabetes-complications.html
Carrying excess weight can put strain on the joints and organs, thus causing pain and fatigue. These complications can make an exercise routine difficult to establish and maintain. Water activities remove the barrier to exercise by providing a low-impact and manageable option for burning calories and getting active.
To learn more, visit:
- Obesity Action Coalition at: http://www.obesityaction.org/educational-resources/resource-articles-2/exercise/swimming-for-weight-loss
- EON at http://foundationeon.org/swimming-getting-started/
For further information on swimming and health, visit:
- The University of Northern Colorado at http://www.unco.edu/campusrec/aquatics/benefits%20of%20swimming.pdf
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center at http://healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu/news/2011/09/adding-swimming-to-your-fitness-routine/