Take the Plunge—Try Swimming!
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Swimming: An Old Sport Gaining New Popularity
A growing number of athletes are turning to swimming to cross train and lower the risk of injury from sports like basketball and running. There are three reasons why. First, your body's weight is fully supported in the water. This prevents most of the injuries that people get when on land. Second, swimming makes it easier to get a hard workout in because the risk of injury is so low. Lastly, swimming uses and strengthens more of your body's muscles many other forms of exercise. This results in a great overall workout.
Swimming isn't just for athletes trying to avoid injury. People who are recovering from exercise and non-exercise-related injuries can also benefit. This is because the no-impact, low-stress nature of swimming is often the best method to strengthen injured joints or limbs without making the original injury worse.
Swimming's benefits do not end there. It's no-impact nature also makes it a great choice for people who suffer from chronic pain from things like arthritis and back-related injuries. It's also a good choice for people with asthma. This is because it is usually done in a warm, humid setting.
Don't jump in the water just yet. You'll want to talk to your doctor before you start. People with an injury or health problem will need to be monitored. People with certain health problems may need to take extra care. For example, high chlorine levels in the cool can worsen or trigger symptoms in people with asthma or eczema.
Where to Go
Swimming does require you to know how to swim and have access to water. This is not a problem for most people. Most people learn to swim as children. Those who did not can learn at a local YMCA, YWCA, or Red Cross that offers swimming lessons. It's a good idea to take a few refresher lessons even if you know how to swim, though. Better form and stroke knowledge can improve your enjoyment, increase the benefits, and lower the risk of injury.
Many health clubs have pools. If your health club does not, the pools at most YMCA and YWCAs are usually available to use for a low cost. Your health insurance plan may also cover part of the cost. Another option is checking with your city. Some allow residents to use the local school or city pool at low or no cost. Check the http://www.swimmersguide.com/ and http://www.usms.org/ websites for more swimming locations.
Remember to check with your doctor before you get started. After that, you can dive right into your new exercise program!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
US Masters Swimming
Chapter 4: Exercise and asthma. Partners Healthcare website. Available at:
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Accessed October 12, 2021.
Chlorine "allergy". American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/chlorine-allergy. Accessed October 12, 2021.
Fitness: starting a swimming routine. US Masters Swimming website. Available at: https://www.usms.org/content/startingaroutine. Accessed October 12, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/12/2021
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