The Health Benefits of Swimming
Milder spring weather sends Hoosiers outside and thinking about the opening date for neighborhood pools. OWH interviewed an expert with Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation in Hamilton County about the aquatic offerings at the Monon Community Center facility to find out more about some of the possible health benefits of swimming. We were interested in the joint-relief benefits, the cardiovascular intensity required, the recommended number of laps or suggested swimming time for a swimming workout and some of the pain-relieving aspects of a water workout. Below Eric Mehl, Aquatics Manager, answers some of our questions:
OWH: For women who walk for 45 minutes or are used to slow jogging, what would be the equivalent cardiovascular swim workout? How many laps would you suggest for someone who would like to start swimming for exercise who is accustomed to moderate physical activity at least three times per week?
Eric: For someone that has very little swimming experience, the change between land and water can be a little hard at first. Start out slow with a 200-300 yard (8-12 lengths of the pool) workout. Like any workout routine, swimming will get easier and you will find yourself being able to go longer distances in a shorter amount of time, so as you build your ability, you build on your number of laps. Individuals who are not comfortable with swimming can take advantage of the resistance of water by jogging or walking in chest deep water.
OWH: Is there particular pool etiquette that all swimmers should know, besides wearing goggles and a swim cap? Is it acceptable to rest in your lane after a set of laps, for instance?
Eric: The main thing to remember when lap swimming is that you often share lane space with another swimmer or two. If you are sharing a lane with one other swimmer, you will generally split the lane so that one is swimming on the left side and one on the right. If more than one swimmer is sharing a lane, you will swim “circle swim” staying on the right side of the lane at all time, like traffic on the road. There are no problems with resting at the end of a lane. Swimmers generally take a 20-30 second rest between sets or as a break between a large number of laps.
OWH: Should swimmers stretch before their lap swimming? Or afterwards?
Eric: Like any workout, you should stretch lightly before and thoroughly after your swimming workout.
OWH: For cardiovascular health, how many times a week do you recommend lap swimming? Is there a particular time of day that has the most benefit? What are the benefits?
Eric: For someone who would like to add swimming into their normal routine, I would recommend spending at least 30 minutes in the pool two to three times a week. As I stated before, the more you work at it, the better you will get. Therefore, your 30 minute workout can start out reaching from 200 yards to 500 yards and more. Increasing your speed increases your distance which increase your cardiovascular heath. There are many benefits to swimming above running or biking. Water exercise is the only type that works all four areas of health most commonly recommended for improvement by doctors: strength, flexibility, respiratory and cardiovascular. Swimming is a total body workout, increasing the health of all muscle groups. Water also provides a little to no impact environment, meaning it is better for your joint and back health. Exercising in water that is chest deep allows individuals to carry only 10 percent of their total body weight on their joints while offering many times the resistance of land exercise.
OWH: Besides swimming laps, are there other water activities/exercises that your members engage in? Do they offer the same benefits?
Eric: Other activities that we offer would be water aerobic classes. These classes have a lot of the same benefits to swimming laps. You can still sweat when you are in the water. Water aerobic classes use the added resistance of the water to make every movement in the water a little harder. Again, there is little to no impact on the joints in these classes, so they are great for injury recovery and anyone with joint pain.
Does Nutrition Affect Kidney Health?
March has a focus on kidney health and the National Kidney Foundation is working to inform Americans about the damage that the condition called "pre-diabetes" can do to the kidneys. The kidneys filter our blood, regulate blood pressure and remove waste products and excess fluid from our bodies. When kidneys become damaged and cannot filter blood as well as possible a condition called "chronic kidney disease" results, which can lead to other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, anemia and bone disease. Blood and urine tests are the only ways to tell if you have chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure, or hypertension, and diabetes are the two leading causes of chronic kidney disease, which is more common in women than men, and in women aged 65 and older, in particular. The good news is that lifestyle changes can prevent pre-diabetes from turning into full-blown diabetes, which may lead to kidney damage and kidney failure if inadequately controlled. Watching what you eat and choosing a heart-healthy diet that controls cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure (keeping it below 130/80 mm/Hg) and limits salt is important to keep your kidneys functioning well. Keep in mind that diet needs vary by person to person, depending on physical activity, overall health and specific health concerns. Talk to a physician to develop a meal plan to stay kidney healthy. The following tips can help to keep your kidneys functioning well:
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables including legumes (peas or beans) and grain-based food like bread, pasta, noodles and rice.
- Eat some lean meat like chicken and fish each week.
- Eat only small amounts of salty or fatty food. Look for “low sodium” or “reduced sodium” labels. Use lemon juice, herbs or spices for flavor instead of salt.
- Drink plenty of water instead of other drinks.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stay fit. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity that increases your heart rate on five or more days of the week including walking, lawn mowing, bike riding, swimming or gentle aerobics.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit your alcohol to two small drinks per day if you are male or one small drink per day if you are female.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Do things that help you relax and reduce your stress levels.
Source: CDC, National Kidney Foundation
Mark Your Calendar for the 2012 "Healthy Women, Healthy Hoosier Conference" to be held at the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis on October 5, 2012
This year's focus will be on sexual health across the lifecourse
, and will incorporate disease prevention (HIV, sexually transmitted disease, HPV vaccine) methods and educational best practices with sessions on healthy relationships and sexual issues of interest to older women, women in their childbearing years and women with cancer, diabetes, pain or other chronic conditions. OWH is in the initial planning stages for this fall conference and is collaborating with the Maternal and Child Health Program, the HIV program as well as the Pregnant and Parenting Adolescent Support program at ISDH, and with a number of external partners including: the Indiana Minority Health Coalition, the Indiana Family Health Council, Roche Diagnostics, Community Health Network, the Indiana University Center for Research Sex, Gender and Reproduction, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Indiana Youth Group, the Health Care Education and Training Center and the Indiana University National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. This one day conference will again offer a unique opportunity for professional providers, nurses, social workers, health administrators and other public health workers to learn from local and national speakers, network and initiate a conversation about the oftentimes avoided topic of sexual health. Sponsorship and exhibit opportunities will be offered, starting at the low rate of $200.
Stay tuned for more details! If you are interested in sponsorship or exhibit opportunities, please contact Morgan E. McGill, OWH Director, at (317) 233-2170 or firstname.lastname@example.org