Health Benefits and Risks of Swimming

Risks of Swimming
Swimming offers numerous benefits for physical and mental health including alleviation of stress, enhanced endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.  It also poses some dangers including germ exposure, drowning, and injury.  In order to have the best swimming experience possible, it is important to keep in mind the benefits and risks of swimming and to understand basics such as swim safety guidelines and swimmer’s ear treatment methods.

Physical Benefits

Swimming is a physical activity that involves the whole body.  Exercising in the water involves resistance that helps to build strength and tone for all major muscle groups as well as overall endurance.  The water resistance causes muscles to be conditioned must faster than land-based workouts.  Since there are a variety of strokes that can be used, swimming also is easy to customize for your particular fitness goals.  For example, freestyle emphasizes the core, arms, and legs while butterfly also leads to a stronger back and shoulders.

Beyond strengthening and toning, a regular swim can improve cardiovascular fitness while being easier on the body than activities such as contact sports or running, which can be particularly hard on the knees.  This means that it can help you to maintain lung and heart health as well as proper weight without causing as much joint and muscle pain.  For people with injuries or certain medical conditions, the low-impact nature of swimming makes it the best form of exercise.

Mental Benefits

Regular physical activity stimulates chemicals in the brain that can increase feelings of happiness and relaxation.  Often regarded as a peaceful activity, swimming can support mental health by improving mood in men and women.  For people with certain conditions such as fibromyalgia, it can even lower anxiety and depression.  Even for those who do not have serious medical conditions, swimming is an enjoyable form of exercise that can support well-being and a calm state of mind.  Since it can be done with family and friends, swimming also can provide the basis for social interactions, making it a fun way to stay active and happy.

Risk of Swimmer’s Ear

Despite the many benefits for physical and mental health, swimming does pose some risks.  One of these is swimmer’s ear, a painful condition that develops when water gets trapped in the ear, allowing for the spread of bacteria and fungus.  If water is present for a long period of time, it creates the ideal environment for these organisms to grow.  Even pool and sea water that appear clear contain pollutants and bacteria that can cause infection so it is important to understand proper swimmer’s ear treatment methods.

At the onset of swimmer’s ear, a feeling of fullness quickly progresses to itch, pain, and swelling as well as possible ear drainage.   Swimmer’s ear treatment involves acting quickly to dry the ear and remove trapped water and to see a doctor if symptoms such as pain, irritation, rash, or discharge persist.  One of the most effective methods is to use swimmer’s ear drops that serve as a drying agent by dislodging trapped water from the sides of the ear canal, allowing it to run out or evaporate.  This eliminates the environmental conditions in which bacteria can grow and cause infection.  Swimmer’s ear drops can be used after swimming or even bathing.  Other ways to keep the ears dry include using a bathing cap or ear plugs, drying ears thoroughly with a towel, and tilting the head to each side so that water can escape.

Drowning, Injury, and Accident Dangers

Following proper water safety guidelines can help to prevent drowning, injury, and accident. Children and adults who are using a pool or swimming in a body such as the lake or ocean should have sufficient experience or have taken lessons that have prepared them.  While swimming, it is important to stay within view of a lifeguard whenever possible and to ensure that someone near the swimming area is trained in life-saving skills such as CPR.   Supervision of children, seniors, and others who may require special assistance is essential, but all swimmers should be watched.

If you own a swimming pool, make sure that it is up to code and meets all safety requirements not only for the pool itself but also for surrounding areas and components such as the fence, deck, and entrances and exits.  Accidents commonly occur when people are getting in and out of the pool as well as walking around the swim area.

It is important to understand the risks and benefits of swimming so that you can help to avoid some common dangers while reaping the physical and mental health rewards.  Knowing the facts about swimmer’s ear treatment and the prevention of injury and accidents can help you to be more prepared for your next dip in the pool or ocean.

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