Many have been glued to the TV watching Olympic swimmers race from one end of the pool to the other.
It turns out that you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of a few laps in the pool.
Low impact, high reward
According to Elaine Husni, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, swimming can be especially beneficial for those who suffer from arthritis-related joint pain.
“Swimming is what we consider a more low-impact exercise,” said Dr. Husni. “We like to start off with the low impact. It also is great because it encourages range of motion in all parts of your body; so you’re using your arms, you’re using your legs, you’re using your glutes, and most importantly, you’re also engaging the core.”
The weightless feeling experienced in the pool is beneficial because it can reduce compression on irritable, swollen joints.
Dr. Husni said swimming is also a good option because it allows for a varying degree in resistance for folks who are looking to increase their fitness level.
Research has shown that swimmers have lower heart rates, lower blood pressure, as well as improved breathing and circulation.
Dr. Husni said the calories that are burned while swimming can also help with weight loss and when arthritis patients can decrease the amount of weight on their joints, it can help alleviate pain.
Swimming is also a good way to increase flexibility, which Dr. Husni said is key to keeping joints working properly.
“Many of us think of exercise as getting up and doing some intense exercise, but really what we want to do is also increase your endurance over time, and your flexibility, because all of those improve how the joint functions,” said Dr. Husni.
For those who find cold water irritating to the joints, Dr. Husni suggested finding in indoor community pool, which will often have better water temperature control and can also provide options for swimming during the cold weather months.