Although I live in a temperate part of the country where one could conceivably swim year round, my local neighborhood has been buzzing with excitement over summer water activities — learn-to-swim classes are full with long waitlists, lane reservations are also fully booked in advance, and my local pools have scheduled a nice variety of programs and classes. It looks like it'll be a very busy summer.
Despite all this interest in water activities, I'm still quite surprised that most people aren't aware of the myriad health benefits that water immersion offers. To be fair, water safety issues are top of mind for most parents in my area, and thankfully, my community does a great job in stressing the importance of swim lessons for all children. But many adults are reluctant to get into the water themselves, and are ignorant as to how swimming — or even simple water immersion — can benefit their physical and mental health.
We've shared quite a bit about those benefits in past issues, so I won't preach too much to this choir: We know that water immersion lowers blood pressure, increases circulation, reduces stress hormones, and improves kidney function, to name just a few general benefits. It can also provide specific benefits for people with certain medical conditions: Stroke patients are able to regain mobility more easily in water versus land exercises, arthritic and fibromyalgia patients report reduced symptoms, and underwater lumbar traction has been shown to be particularly effective for those suffering from lower-back pain.
When I mentioned some of these benefits to a group of mom friends recently, they were amazed. Not a few came away from the conversation inspired to look beyond learn-to-swim classes for their kids and see what their local pool might have available for them, too. (Which will mean that I'll need to hurry up and sign up for the new program I've been eyeing before it fills up!)
This recent experience was a good reminder on the importance of sharing our specialized knowledge with the general public — to be a tireless champion of aquatics, if you will.
Here's to creating more swimmers and having a safe and successful summer!