As one of the most popular forms of physical activity, swimming and other aquatic exercise confers significant physical health benefits for both healthy individuals and those with disease. These health benefits extend well across the span of someone’s life.
A study was recently conducted by Swim England on the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming. You can read the executive summary of the study here and the full version here. The evidence from the report supports what we already know:
Whether it’s for leisure, pleasure or competition, swimming is a great way to improve your health and wellbeing.
Water-based exercise brings a number of advantages, as compared to land-based exercise. As an environment that offers reduced weight-bearing stress, higher humidity levels, decreased heat load and a greater margin of therapeutic safety. Swimming is extremely well placed to safely and effectively meet the needs of a wide range of individuals, in both treatment and prevention of physical health issues.
Exercise in water gives your body more support than exercise on land. Swimming has less impact on your joints and bones than land-based workouts. Water is 800x denser than air so the benefit of this added resistance is felt when swimming laps. Because swimming is low impact, it’s something you can do every single day. As a result swimming is the best form of physical exercise that promotes good health. Below are 5 specific health benefits of swimming. If you haven’t tried our training plans, check them out here.
- Low Impact, High Reward
- Swimming Improves Heart Health
- Swimming Lowers Blood Pressure
- Swimming Reduces Joint Pain
- Swimming Increases Bone Strength
There is an increased recognition of the importance of maintaining and promoting the wellbeing of individuals within society and the entire lifespan. Two sessions of swimming a week for 45 minutes can significantly improve the wellbeing of older people.
There is also evidence of an incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (compared to minimal intervention) of E12,100 per quality adjusted life year gained for community based exercise programs. Swimming remains one of the most popular forms of physical activity across the world and may offer a unique opportunity to promote, maintain, and improve wellbeing across the lifespan, with potential to reach all individuals of society, regardless of gender, age, disability, or socioeconomic status.
- Kids: Swimming helps children develop more quickly, by helping them get to grips with the key skills like walking, talking and counting faster.
- Adults: Swimming helps adults keep on top of their mental health by helping reduce with stress and anxiety, and improving their quality of life.
- Elderly: Swimming helps older people stay mentally agile, by helping slow the decline of things like memory that can often happen as we age.
In healthy children and adolescents, swimming just once may reduce the body’s ability to respond to oxidative stress (which can cause cell damage), however, repeated swim training may actually improve the body’s defenses against oxidative stress. Below are more benefits of Long-term swim training:
- Improves cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance in healthy pre-pubertal girls and adults, women during pregnancy, children with asthma, and adults with osteoarthritis.
- Improves systolic blood pressure in adults with abnormally high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Swim training studies have also reported improvements in measures of heart and blood vessel function, and how sensitive the body is to the effects of insulin in adults with hypertension, and blood vessel function in older adults.
The Benefits of Swimming to Communities
A critical strategy in the fight to improve population health and wellbeing is to focus on communities. The role of swimming as a vehicle for the promotion of physical, mental and social health within communities is increasingly advocated.
Swimming is a critical constituent of community and social development programs. These community programs have been show to strengthen education, improve public health, address community safety, and promote inter-cultural exchange and augment social inclusion.
“Everybody Active Everyday” is an initiative by Public Health England that recommends that adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity each week. Swimming is uniquely placed to have a pivotal role to helping people stay active.
A study among over 80,000 British adults found that any amount of swimming participation compared to those who engaged in none, was associated with a 28% and 41% reduction in all-cause and cardiovascular disease cause mortality respectively.
On a macro level, swimming is also well positioned to benefit the public because of its wide appeal. A recent meta-analysis of worldwide global sport and leisure activities demonstrated that swimming was consistently rated in the top five leisure sports.
“Swimming is one simple way to boost your life expectancy”
There are a wealth of ways to swim, and a wealth of ways to benefit from the water. The water is a perfect environment to get active and feel the benefits for the body and mind.
- Pool Swimming
- Open Water Swimming
- Water Polo
- Synchronized Swimming
Swimming is in many ways an ideal form of physical activity, accessible to many for whom other forms of physical activity are contra-indicated. Swimming is also one of the few sports where female participation is greater than that of males.
Highlights of the landmark study as summarized by Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England are below:
- Swimming may be associated with a decrease in early death due to cardiovascular disease and any other cause.
- Swimming can have a number of health and wellbeing benefits for individuals, patients, communities, and the greater public.
- There is emerging scientific data for the physical and mental health benefits of swimming.
Swim England is the national governing body for swimming in England. The organization and network helps people learn how to swim, enjoy the water safely, and compete in all their sports. Checkout the full report here.
So what are you waiting for? Start a MySwimPro Training Plan today and get to the pool!