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Swimming: exercise with unique life-long benefits

Article
September 20, 2022
By
Olena Mokshyna, PhD.

Swimming, though another form of exercise, drastically differs from other traditional activities that require weight-bearing.

Swimming: exercise with unique life-long benefits

Highlights:

  • Swimming is one of the most popular physical activities, which carries all the benefits of on-land activities but provides some unique advantages
  • Due to the exercise being carried out in a "weightless" state, swim training is less strenuous than other types of exercise and can be easily adopted by elderly frail people
  • Swimming is particularly beneficial for cardiovascular and pulmonary health, with additional benefits for general well-being
  • Though longevity effects in humans are not well-studied, it was shown that swimming could save around three years of life
  • Experiments in rodents show that swimming can activate sirtuin 1 and 3 genes, which is closely related to the extended lifespan

Introduction: Uniqueness of swimming

Physical fitness and well-being strongly depend on regular physical activity, which is an inseparable part of healthy aging. Regular exercise has been shown to improve muscle strength, organ function, and cognitive abilities in the elderly. Swimming, though another form of exercise, drastically differs from other traditional activities that require weight-bearing. As extremities and most of the body are underwater, swimming occurs in a nearly zero-gravity situation. Thus, it has a minimal impact on vulnerable joints, such as the hip, knee, or ankle. This leads to a lower injury prevalence and expands the exercise applicability to older frail people.

Health benefits associated with swimming

At the moment, swimming is frequently and unfortunately omitted from the studies of physical activity effects. Most studies exploring the connection between physical activity and health focus on interventions, such as walking, cycling, running, or aerobics classes (1,2). Also, a majority of existing studies on swimming are focused on professional athletes and improving their performance.

However, the body of research targeted at improving the general population's health through swimming exercise is slowly growing. The benefits of this type of exercise for the aging population are of particular interest. Due to its safety, weight-bearing environment, and decreased heat load, swimming is especially beneficial for the elderly and targets many age-related conditions. Also, swimming proficiency tends to decline slower than, for example, running performance. Swimming and other aquatic exercises (such as aqua-aerobics or aqua-jogging) are some of the most popular ways of meeting physical activity recommendations (3).

From existing research (4), regular swimming can improve several physical parameters:

  • endurance,
  • muscle strength,
  • and maximum oxygen consumption.

Chase et al. (1) compared the health aspects of swimming with exercise alternatives and sedentary behavior, including more than 10 thousand women and more than 35 thousand men aged 20-88 years. The results showed that, though all types of physical activity produced health benefits, swimming and running achieved the highest scores in duration tests. Regarding physical health, swimming was shown to be particularly beneficial for cardiovascular, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems.

Neck-depth immersion in water results in relief of vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) and release of nitric oxide, both of which carry out a cardioprotective role (5). Swimming tends to slightly increase blood pressure in normotensive individuals, but it seems to normalize pressure in people with hypertension (2,6). Aquatic exercise is also one of the most widely used forms of cardiac rehabilitation in heart failure and coronary heart disease (7,8).

Of interest are specific effects of swim training on blood lipids and insulin sensitivity. In a systematic review, Delevatti et al. analyzed eight studies on the effects of prolonged aquatic training (8-24 weeks) (9). All studies demonstrated significant improvement regarding at least one parameter among lipid profile characteristics or blood glucose.

The pulmonary system can also benefit from water immersion. Swimming-based exercises have long been used as rehabilitation for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In a Cochrane review by McNamara et al., five studies were analyzed, with interventions ranging from four to twelve weeks (10). Though little information was available for long-term interventions, the studies provided limited evidence of the advantages of water-based training over land-based ones.

One of the prominent age-related problems is difficulties with body balance, resulting from neural system dysfunctions. These can be further burdened with age-related sarcopenia, leading to a significantly increased risk of falls and traumas. In a population-based cohort study of more than one and a half thousand men, the researchers examined the link between physical activity and the incidence of falls (11). Swimming demonstrated a significant protective effect and improvement in movement. Several other studies described that regular swimming could support balance in coordination by the elderly (12–14).  

Except for the main effects discussed above, swim training can also improve multiple musculoskeletal conditions (15), help manage osteoarthritis and strengthen bone structure (16), and improve the mobility of individuals with neurological diseases (such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis) (17).

Aquatic sports, brain health, and well-being

An abundant amount of evidence shows that physical activity, in general, positively impacts brain health and well-being (18,19). Swimming, as one of the most popular types of exercise, has immense potential in relation to this. In a study by de Oliveira et al., swimming was able to improve anxiety, stress, and self-esteem parameters in older women (20). However, there is still a lack of data on the specific effects of swimming on mental health, which hopefully will be covered by future research.

Mental health is not the only area of brain health where swimming is of interest. It was shown to improve cognitive function, with research implying long-term benefits (21). In the elderly, swimming exercise was shown to be a positive moderator of cognitive aging (22). Regular older swimmers had significantly better executive function than their sedentary peers of the same age and gender. And in people with dementia, swim training improved their well-being and reduced their psychological symptoms, especially in those who were engaged in aquatic exercise before (23).

Depending on the setting, aquatic exercise can add social, emotional, and cultural benefits. Though indoor swimming can be a more convenient option for many, outdoor swimming has multiple perceived well-being benefits, ranging from mental health improvement and injury symptom reduction (24) to a feeling of connectedness to nature and deep relaxation (25). Group aquatic activities can be a way to improve socialization and decrease perceived loneliness.

Can swimming prolong life?

Though all the benefits discussed above are directly related to increasing health- and lifespan (thus promoting longevity), there is scarce research on this specific topic. However, it was shown that swimming is inversely associated with all-cause mortality in men (26). Similar results were demonstrated by Oja et al. (27) in a cohort study of over 80 thousand British adults. Swimming was associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality of 28%. The Copenhagen City Heart Study results – a prospective study of more than eight thousand participants – demonstrated that life expectancy gained from swimming is 3.4 years compared to the sedentary group (28).

As for decreasing biological age, there is even less evidence. The mechanism behind that might be the epigenetic changes in known anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory genes, as a study of elite swimming athletes shows (29). A small study on non-professional swimmers showed that swim training could slow the aging rate in 30-35 years old (30). However, this data is extremely limited and incomplete and requires more robust confirmation.

Insights from animal studies

A bit more understanding of molecular mechanisms behind swimming can be obtained from animal studies. The study of continuous swimming training (31) demonstrated that rats involved in this exercise had increased levels of two proteins – PGC-1α (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma-coactivator 1 alpha) and SIRT3 (sirtuin 3). Both proteins are known to participate in energy metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis, and upregulation of sirtuins has been commonly associated with longevity. Cardioprotective effects of swimming were associated with upregulated antioxidant capacity and improved Ca2+ handling in aged female rats with heart abnormalities (32). Another study addressed the age-related pathological changes in the hippocampus, which often lead to cognitive problems. Astudy (33) showed that swimming exercise stimulated longevity-related SIRT1 pathway and brain survival pathway in rats. However, this research is yet to be proven to be translatable to humans, the current data points toward putative mechanisms behind the benefits of swimming.

What to advise your clients?

  • Explain to your clients the benefits of regular swimming exercise. Help them choose the best type of swimming exercise - solitary swimming or group exercises.
  • Highlight the benefits and risks of different swimming media, depending on if it is an indoor pool or open water. Explain the strategies to minimize the risks, such as making informed choices about a place for swimming and using proper equipment (i.e., ear plugs, buoys for inexperienced swimmers).
  • If there are any swimming communities in your area, you can suggest your client join them for more robust motivation and additional socialization benefits. Another good option might be to enroll in a swimming course.
  • Multiple wearables on the market can support tracking your client's swimming progress, such as fitness trackers (i.e., Fitbit), smartwatches (i.e., Apple Watch), or even goggles (Form Smart Swim Goggles).
  • Assess the associated health risks, depending on your client's condition. The chosen swimming exercise routine and its intensity should be adjusted according to the current health condition. While, for example, high-intensity swimming might be recommended to prevent cardiovascular problems and obesity, low intensity should be preferred for older people with already existing cardiovascular problems.
  • Swimming can be modified to swimming in cold or thermal water, which requires additional health considerations.

Conclusions

Swimming is one of the unique exercise activities known to humans and one of the least strenuous when done properly. Incorporating swimming into your client's longevity routine would benefit not only their physical health, mental health, and general well-being.

References

  1. Chase NL, Sui X, Blair SN. Comparison of the Health Aspects of Swimming With Other Types of Physical Activity and Sedentary Lifestyle Habits. Int J Aquat Res Educ [Internet]. 2008 May [cited 2022 Aug 3];2(2). Available from: http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol2/iss2/7/
  2. Mohr M, Nordsborg NB, Lindenskov A, Steinholm H, Nielsen HP, Mortensen J, et al. High-Intensity Intermittent Swimming Improves Cardiovascular Health Status for Women with Mild Hypertension. BioMed Res Int. 2014;2014:1–9.
  3. Lazar JM, Khanna N, Chesler R, Salciccioli L. Swimming and the heart. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Sep;168(1):19–26.
  4. Cumming I. The health & wellbeing benefits of swimming. Swim England’s Swim Health Comm. 2017;
  5. Becker BE. Aquatic Therapy: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Rehabilitation Applications. PM&R. 2009 Sep;1(9):859–72.
  6. Hsiu-Hua Chen, Yi-Liang Chen, Chih-Yang Huang, Shin-Da Lee, Shih-Chang Chen, Chia-Hua Kuo. Effects of One-Year Swimming Training on Blood Pressure and Insulin Sensitivity in Mild Hypertensive Young Patients. Chin J Physiol. 2010 Jun 1;53(3).
  7. Adsett JA, Mudge AM, Morris N, Kuys S, Paratz JD. Aquatic exercise training and stable heart failure: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2015 May;186:22–8.
  8. Mourot L, Teffaha D, Bouhaddi M, Ounissi F, Vernochet P, Dugue B, et al. Training-induced increase in nitric oxide metabolites in chronic heart failure and coronary artery disease: an extra benefit of water-based exercises? Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2009 Apr;16(2):215–21.
  9. Delevatti R, Marson E, Kruel LF. Effect of aquatic exercise training on lipids profile and glycaemia: A systematic review. Rev Andal Med Deporte. 2015 Dec;8(4):163–70.
  10. McNamara RJ, McKeough ZJ, McKenzie DK, Alison JA. Water-based exercise training for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Airways Group, editor. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2013 Dec 18 [cited 2022 Aug 3]; Available from: https://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/14651858.CD008290.pub2
  11. Merom D, Stanaway FF, Handelsman DJ, Waite LM, Seibel MJ, Blyth FM, et al. Swimming and Other Sporting Activities and the Rate of Falls in Older Men: Longitudinal Findings From the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project. Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Oct 15;180(8):830–7.
  12. Hsu HC, Chou SW, Chen CPC, Wong AMK, Chen CK, Hong JP. Effects of swimming on eye hand coordination and balance in the elderly. J Nutr Health Aging. 2010 Oct;14(8):692–5.
  13. Bergamin M, Ermolao, Tolomio S, Berton, Sergi, Zaccaria. Water- versus land-based exercise in elderly subjects: effects on physical performance and body composition. Clin Interv Aging. 2013 Aug;1109.
  14. de Oliveira MR, da Silva RA, Dascal JB, Teixeira DC. Effect of different types of exercise on postural balance in elderly women: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014 Nov;59(3):506–14.
  15. Barker AL, Talevski J, Morello RT, Brand CA, Rahmann AE, Urquhart DM. Effectiveness of Aquatic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Meta-Analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Sep;95(9):1776–86.
  16. Bartels EM, Juhl CB, Christensen R, Hagen KB, Danneskiold-Samsøe B, Dagfinrud H, et al. Aquatic exercise for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group, editor. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2016 Mar 23 [cited 2022 Aug 3]; Available from: https://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/14651858.CD005523.pub3
  17. Marinho-Buzelli AR, Bonnyman AM, Verrier MC. The effects of aquatic therapy on mobility of individuals with neurological diseases: a systematic review. Clin Rehabil. 2015 Aug;29(8):741–51.
  18. Netz Y, Wu MJ, Becker BJ, Tenenbaum G. Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being in Advanced Age: A Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies. Psychol Aging. 2005;20(2):272–84.
  19. Morres ID, Hatzigeorgiadis A, Stathi A, Comoutos N, Arpin-Cribbie C, Krommidas C, et al. Aerobic exercise for adult patients with major depressive disorder in mental health services: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Depress Anxiety. 2019 Jan;36(1):39–53.
  20. Oliveira DV de, Muzolon LG, Antunes MD, Nascimento Júnior JRA do. Impact of swimming initiation on the physical fitness and mental health of elderly women. Acta Sci Health Sci. 2019 May 22;41(1):43221.
  21. Shoemaker LN, Wilson LC, Lucas SJE, Machado L, Thomas KN, Cotter JD. Swimming‐related effects on cerebrovascular and cognitive function. Physiol Rep [Internet]. 2019 Oct [cited 2022 Aug 3];7(20). Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.14814/phy2.14247
  22. Abou-Dest A, Albinet CT, Boucard G, Audiffren M. Swimming as a Positive Moderator of Cognitive Aging: A Cross-Sectional Study with a Multitask Approach. J Aging Res. 2012;2012:1–12.
  23. Henwood T, Neville C, Baguley C, Clifton K, Beattie E. Physical and functional implications of aquatic exercise for nursing home residents with dementia. Geriatr Nur (Lond). 2015 Jan;36(1):35–9.
  24. Massey H, Gorczynski P, Harper CM, Sansom L, McEwan K, Yankouskaya A, et al. Perceived Impact of Outdoor Swimming on Health: Web-Based Survey. Interact J Med Res. 2022 Jan 4;11(1):e25589.
  25. Denton H, Aranda K. The wellbeing benefits of sea swimming. Is it time to revisit the sea cure? Qual Res Sport Exerc Health. 2020 Oct 19;12(5):647–63.
  26. Chase NL, Sui X, Blair SN. Swimming and All-Cause Mortality Risk Compared With Running, Walking, and Sedentary Habits in Men. Int J Aquat Res Educ [Internet]. 2008 Aug [cited 2022 Aug 3];2(3). Available from: http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol2/iss3/3/
  27. Oja P, Kelly P, Pedisic Z, Titze S, Bauman A, Foster C, et al. Associations of specific types of sports and exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular-disease mortality: a cohort study of 80 306 British adults. Br J Sports Med. 2017 May;51(10):812–7.
  28. Schnohr P, O’Keefe JH, Holtermann A, Lavie CJ, Lange P, Jensen GB, et al. Various Leisure-Time Physical Activities Associated With Widely Divergent Life Expectancies: The Copenhagen City Heart Study. Mayo Clin Proc. 2018 Dec;93(12):1775–85.
  29. Spólnicka M, Pośpiech E, Adamczyk JG, Freire-Aradas A, Pepłońska B, Zbieć-Piekarska R, et al. Modified aging of elite athletes revealed by analysis of epigenetic age markers. Aging. 2018 Feb 15;10(2):241–52.
  30. Nazariy Fedynyak. Effect of training on improving swimming biological age and capabilities of people aged 30-35 years. 2014;71221 Bytes.
  31. Heiat F, Ghanbarzadeh M, Shojaeifard M, Ranjbar R. The effect of high-intensity interval training on the expression levels of PGC-1α and SIRT3 proteins and aging index of slow-twitch and fast-twitch of healthy male rats. Sci Sports. 2021 Apr;36(2):170–5.
  32. Ozturk N, Olgar Y, Er H, Kucuk M, Ozdemir S. Swimming exercise reverses aging-related contractile abnormalities of female heart by improving structural alterations. Cardiol J. 2017;24(1):85–93.
  33. Lin JY, Kuo WW, Baskaran R, Kuo CH, Chen YA, Chen WST, et al. Swimming exercise stimulates IGF1/ PI3K/Akt and AMPK/SIRT1/PGC1α survival signaling to suppress apoptosis and inflammation in aging hippocampus. Aging. 2020 Apr 22;12(8):6852–64.

Swimming: exercise with unique life-long benefits

Highlights:

  • Swimming is one of the most popular physical activities, which carries all the benefits of on-land activities but provides some unique advantages
  • Due to the exercise being carried out in a "weightless" state, swim training is less strenuous than other types of exercise and can be easily adopted by elderly frail people
  • Swimming is particularly beneficial for cardiovascular and pulmonary health, with additional benefits for general well-being
  • Though longevity effects in humans are not well-studied, it was shown that swimming could save around three years of life
  • Experiments in rodents show that swimming can activate sirtuin 1 and 3 genes, which is closely related to the extended lifespan

Introduction: Uniqueness of swimming

Physical fitness and well-being strongly depend on regular physical activity, which is an inseparable part of healthy aging. Regular exercise has been shown to improve muscle strength, organ function, and cognitive abilities in the elderly. Swimming, though another form of exercise, drastically differs from other traditional activities that require weight-bearing. As extremities and most of the body are underwater, swimming occurs in a nearly zero-gravity situation. Thus, it has a minimal impact on vulnerable joints, such as the hip, knee, or ankle. This leads to a lower injury prevalence and expands the exercise applicability to older frail people.

Health benefits associated with swimming

At the moment, swimming is frequently and unfortunately omitted from the studies of physical activity effects. Most studies exploring the connection between physical activity and health focus on interventions, such as walking, cycling, running, or aerobics classes (1,2). Also, a majority of existing studies on swimming are focused on professional athletes and improving their performance.

However, the body of research targeted at improving the general population's health through swimming exercise is slowly growing. The benefits of this type of exercise for the aging population are of particular interest. Due to its safety, weight-bearing environment, and decreased heat load, swimming is especially beneficial for the elderly and targets many age-related conditions. Also, swimming proficiency tends to decline slower than, for example, running performance. Swimming and other aquatic exercises (such as aqua-aerobics or aqua-jogging) are some of the most popular ways of meeting physical activity recommendations (3).

From existing research (4), regular swimming can improve several physical parameters:

  • endurance,
  • muscle strength,
  • and maximum oxygen consumption.

Chase et al. (1) compared the health aspects of swimming with exercise alternatives and sedentary behavior, including more than 10 thousand women and more than 35 thousand men aged 20-88 years. The results showed that, though all types of physical activity produced health benefits, swimming and running achieved the highest scores in duration tests. Regarding physical health, swimming was shown to be particularly beneficial for cardiovascular, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems.

Neck-depth immersion in water results in relief of vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) and release of nitric oxide, both of which carry out a cardioprotective role (5). Swimming tends to slightly increase blood pressure in normotensive individuals, but it seems to normalize pressure in people with hypertension (2,6). Aquatic exercise is also one of the most widely used forms of cardiac rehabilitation in heart failure and coronary heart disease (7,8).

Of interest are specific effects of swim training on blood lipids and insulin sensitivity. In a systematic review, Delevatti et al. analyzed eight studies on the effects of prolonged aquatic training (8-24 weeks) (9). All studies demonstrated significant improvement regarding at least one parameter among lipid profile characteristics or blood glucose.

The pulmonary system can also benefit from water immersion. Swimming-based exercises have long been used as rehabilitation for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In a Cochrane review by McNamara et al., five studies were analyzed, with interventions ranging from four to twelve weeks (10). Though little information was available for long-term interventions, the studies provided limited evidence of the advantages of water-based training over land-based ones.

One of the prominent age-related problems is difficulties with body balance, resulting from neural system dysfunctions. These can be further burdened with age-related sarcopenia, leading to a significantly increased risk of falls and traumas. In a population-based cohort study of more than one and a half thousand men, the researchers examined the link between physical activity and the incidence of falls (11). Swimming demonstrated a significant protective effect and improvement in movement. Several other studies described that regular swimming could support balance in coordination by the elderly (12–14).  

Except for the main effects discussed above, swim training can also improve multiple musculoskeletal conditions (15), help manage osteoarthritis and strengthen bone structure (16), and improve the mobility of individuals with neurological diseases (such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis) (17).

Aquatic sports, brain health, and well-being

An abundant amount of evidence shows that physical activity, in general, positively impacts brain health and well-being (18,19). Swimming, as one of the most popular types of exercise, has immense potential in relation to this. In a study by de Oliveira et al., swimming was able to improve anxiety, stress, and self-esteem parameters in older women (20). However, there is still a lack of data on the specific effects of swimming on mental health, which hopefully will be covered by future research.

Mental health is not the only area of brain health where swimming is of interest. It was shown to improve cognitive function, with research implying long-term benefits (21). In the elderly, swimming exercise was shown to be a positive moderator of cognitive aging (22). Regular older swimmers had significantly better executive function than their sedentary peers of the same age and gender. And in people with dementia, swim training improved their well-being and reduced their psychological symptoms, especially in those who were engaged in aquatic exercise before (23).

Depending on the setting, aquatic exercise can add social, emotional, and cultural benefits. Though indoor swimming can be a more convenient option for many, outdoor swimming has multiple perceived well-being benefits, ranging from mental health improvement and injury symptom reduction (24) to a feeling of connectedness to nature and deep relaxation (25). Group aquatic activities can be a way to improve socialization and decrease perceived loneliness.

Can swimming prolong life?

Though all the benefits discussed above are directly related to increasing health- and lifespan (thus promoting longevity), there is scarce research on this specific topic. However, it was shown that swimming is inversely associated with all-cause mortality in men (26). Similar results were demonstrated by Oja et al. (27) in a cohort study of over 80 thousand British adults. Swimming was associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality of 28%. The Copenhagen City Heart Study results – a prospective study of more than eight thousand participants – demonstrated that life expectancy gained from swimming is 3.4 years compared to the sedentary group (28).

As for decreasing biological age, there is even less evidence. The mechanism behind that might be the epigenetic changes in known anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory genes, as a study of elite swimming athletes shows (29). A small study on non-professional swimmers showed that swim training could slow the aging rate in 30-35 years old (30). However, this data is extremely limited and incomplete and requires more robust confirmation.

Insights from animal studies

A bit more understanding of molecular mechanisms behind swimming can be obtained from animal studies. The study of continuous swimming training (31) demonstrated that rats involved in this exercise had increased levels of two proteins – PGC-1α (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma-coactivator 1 alpha) and SIRT3 (sirtuin 3). Both proteins are known to participate in energy metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis, and upregulation of sirtuins has been commonly associated with longevity. Cardioprotective effects of swimming were associated with upregulated antioxidant capacity and improved Ca2+ handling in aged female rats with heart abnormalities (32). Another study addressed the age-related pathological changes in the hippocampus, which often lead to cognitive problems. Astudy (33) showed that swimming exercise stimulated longevity-related SIRT1 pathway and brain survival pathway in rats. However, this research is yet to be proven to be translatable to humans, the current data points toward putative mechanisms behind the benefits of swimming.

What to advise your clients?

  • Explain to your clients the benefits of regular swimming exercise. Help them choose the best type of swimming exercise - solitary swimming or group exercises.
  • Highlight the benefits and risks of different swimming media, depending on if it is an indoor pool or open water. Explain the strategies to minimize the risks, such as making informed choices about a place for swimming and using proper equipment (i.e., ear plugs, buoys for inexperienced swimmers).
  • If there are any swimming communities in your area, you can suggest your client join them for more robust motivation and additional socialization benefits. Another good option might be to enroll in a swimming course.
  • Multiple wearables on the market can support tracking your client's swimming progress, such as fitness trackers (i.e., Fitbit), smartwatches (i.e., Apple Watch), or even goggles (Form Smart Swim Goggles).
  • Assess the associated health risks, depending on your client's condition. The chosen swimming exercise routine and its intensity should be adjusted according to the current health condition. While, for example, high-intensity swimming might be recommended to prevent cardiovascular problems and obesity, low intensity should be preferred for older people with already existing cardiovascular problems.
  • Swimming can be modified to swimming in cold or thermal water, which requires additional health considerations.

Conclusions

Swimming is one of the unique exercise activities known to humans and one of the least strenuous when done properly. Incorporating swimming into your client's longevity routine would benefit not only their physical health, mental health, and general well-being.

References

  1. Chase NL, Sui X, Blair SN. Comparison of the Health Aspects of Swimming With Other Types of Physical Activity and Sedentary Lifestyle Habits. Int J Aquat Res Educ [Internet]. 2008 May [cited 2022 Aug 3];2(2). Available from: http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/ijare/vol2/iss2/7/
  2. Mohr M, Nordsborg NB, Lindenskov A, Steinholm H, Nielsen HP, Mortensen J, et al. High-Intensity Intermittent Swimming Improves Cardiovascular Health Status for Women with Mild Hypertension. BioMed Res Int. 2014;2014:1–9.
  3. Lazar JM, Khanna N, Chesler R, Salciccioli L. Swimming and the heart. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Sep;168(1):19–26.
  4. Cumming I. The health & wellbeing benefits of swimming. Swim England’s Swim Health Comm. 2017;
  5. Becker BE. Aquatic Therapy: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Rehabilitation Applications. PM&R. 2009 Sep;1(9):859–72.
  6. Hsiu-Hua Chen, Yi-Liang Chen, Chih-Yang Huang, Shin-Da Lee, Shih-Chang Chen, Chia-Hua Kuo. Effects of One-Year Swimming Training on Blood Pressure and Insulin Sensitivity in Mild Hypertensive Young Patients. Chin J Physiol. 2010 Jun 1;53(3).
  7. Adsett JA, Mudge AM, Morris N, Kuys S, Paratz JD. Aquatic exercise training and stable heart failure: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2015 May;186:22–8.
  8. Mourot L, Teffaha D, Bouhaddi M, Ounissi F, Vernochet P, Dugue B, et al. Training-induced increase in nitric oxide metabolites in chronic heart failure and coronary artery disease: an extra benefit of water-based exercises? Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2009 Apr;16(2):215–21.
  9. Delevatti R, Marson E, Kruel LF. Effect of aquatic exercise training on lipids profile and glycaemia: A systematic review. Rev Andal Med Deporte. 2015 Dec;8(4):163–70.
  10. McNamara RJ, McKeough ZJ, McKenzie DK, Alison JA. Water-based exercise training for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Airways Group, editor. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2013 Dec 18 [cited 2022 Aug 3]; Available from: https://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/14651858.CD008290.pub2
  11. Merom D, Stanaway FF, Handelsman DJ, Waite LM, Seibel MJ, Blyth FM, et al. Swimming and Other Sporting Activities and the Rate of Falls in Older Men: Longitudinal Findings From the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project. Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Oct 15;180(8):830–7.
  12. Hsu HC, Chou SW, Chen CPC, Wong AMK, Chen CK, Hong JP. Effects of swimming on eye hand coordination and balance in the elderly. J Nutr Health Aging. 2010 Oct;14(8):692–5.
  13. Bergamin M, Ermolao, Tolomio S, Berton, Sergi, Zaccaria. Water- versus land-based exercise in elderly subjects: effects on physical performance and body composition. Clin Interv Aging. 2013 Aug;1109.
  14. de Oliveira MR, da Silva RA, Dascal JB, Teixeira DC. Effect of different types of exercise on postural balance in elderly women: A randomized controlled trial. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014 Nov;59(3):506–14.
  15. Barker AL, Talevski J, Morello RT, Brand CA, Rahmann AE, Urquhart DM. Effectiveness of Aquatic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Conditions: A Meta-Analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Sep;95(9):1776–86.
  16. Bartels EM, Juhl CB, Christensen R, Hagen KB, Danneskiold-Samsøe B, Dagfinrud H, et al. Aquatic exercise for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group, editor. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2016 Mar 23 [cited 2022 Aug 3]; Available from: https://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/14651858.CD005523.pub3
  17. Marinho-Buzelli AR, Bonnyman AM, Verrier MC. The effects of aquatic therapy on mobility of individuals with neurological diseases: a systematic review. Clin Rehabil. 2015 Aug;29(8):741–51.
  18. Netz Y, Wu MJ, Becker BJ, Tenenbaum G. Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being in Advanced Age: A Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies. Psychol Aging. 2005;20(2):272–84.
  19. Morres ID, Hatzigeorgiadis A, Stathi A, Comoutos N, Arpin-Cribbie C, Krommidas C, et al. Aerobic exercise for adult patients with major depressive disorder in mental health services: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Depress Anxiety. 2019 Jan;36(1):39–53.
  20. Oliveira DV de, Muzolon LG, Antunes MD, Nascimento Júnior JRA do. Impact of swimming initiation on the physical fitness and mental health of elderly women. Acta Sci Health Sci. 2019 May 22;41(1):43221.
  21. Shoemaker LN, Wilson LC, Lucas SJE, Machado L, Thomas KN, Cotter JD. Swimming‐related effects on cerebrovascular and cognitive function. Physiol Rep [Internet]. 2019 Oct [cited 2022 Aug 3];7(20). Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.14814/phy2.14247
  22. Abou-Dest A, Albinet CT, Boucard G, Audiffren M. Swimming as a Positive Moderator of Cognitive Aging: A Cross-Sectional Study with a Multitask Approach. J Aging Res. 2012;2012:1–12.
  23. Henwood T, Neville C, Baguley C, Clifton K, Beattie E. Physical and functional implications of aquatic exercise for nursing home residents with dementia. Geriatr Nur (Lond). 2015 Jan;36(1):35–9.
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Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.
SCIENTIFIC & MEDICAL ADVISOR
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Dr. Ana Baroni MD. Ph.D.

Scientific & Medical Advisor
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Ana has over 20 years of consultancy experience in longevity, regenerative and precision medicine. She has a multifaceted understanding of genomics, molecular biology, clinical biochemistry, nutrition, aging markers, hormones and physical training. This background allows her to bridge the gap between longevity basic sciences and evidence-based real interventions, putting them into the clinic, to enhance the healthy aging of people. She is co-founder of Origen.life, and Longevityzone. Board member at Breath of Health, BioOx and American Board of Clinical Nutrition. She is Director of International Medical Education of the American College of Integrative Medicine, Professor in IL3 Master of Longevity at Barcelona University and Professor of Nutrigenomics in Nutrition Grade in UNIR University.

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