Where I live (south Africa), swimming is widespread. Most houses have a pool, but very often, the deep water can be dangerous for kids and babies. To tackle this problem, private swimming classes are very much common.
And every school has a pool, where they can learn to swim.
It is also a sport that the families love to do together.
Benefit on body weight
The type of exercise can influence health benefits. Compared with walking, swimming improved body weight, body fat distribution, and insulin in the short term and, in the longer term, body weight and lipid measures.(1)
Research regarding the benefits of exercise for cardiovascular and metabolic health is well-documented. However, weight-bearing exercise may not be suitable for individuals with orthopaedic or musculo-skeletal limitations, excess adiposity or other medical conditions. Water-based exercise may provide an attractive alternative to land-based exercise for achieving improved health and fitness in these populations. (2)
Water-based exercise: recommended even with osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative disease of multifactorial origin, beginning usually between 50 and 60 years of age, primarily affecting knee and hip joints. Pain is the main symptom of the disease and, when associated with joint stiffness, instability and weakness, can cause functional limitations and difficulties in performing activities of daily living.
Water-based exercises are recommended for people with osteoarthritis, due to the beneficial effects on :
- physical function
- quality of life
- symptom reduction.
The treatment of OA includes drug therapy, manual therapy, and exercise. Exercise is a highly recommended conservative treatment, with easy application and low cost, and with little chance of adverse reactions. The types of exercises most recommended for people with OA are those causing a low-impact on the joints, for muscle strengthening, aerobics, or some combination thereof, carried out in water or on the floor.
The strengthening of the muscles around the affected joint is a key part in the treatment of OA, because this contributes to the quality of cartilage, increases the neural activation and improves intra- and intermuscular coordination. In addition, muscles act as a load-absorbing mechanism during the gait. Therefore, stronger muscles can better absorb and distribute the impact on the hip and knee, which increases the stability and contributes to the improvement of the functionality and mobility. (3)
When compared to land-based exercises, water exercises can offer some advantages to overweight patients, with mobility difficulties, since the body weight relief provided by the fluctuation reduces the impact on joints and the perception of pain intensity. The heated water and the hydrostatic pressure promote muscle relaxation and stress relief, and also decrease muscle spasms, which facilitate the execution of movements. In addition, studies in healthy adults and older subjects have shown that water exercises are effective to increase muscle strength.
Studies comparing aquatic exercise programs versus land-based exercises found similar effects in both groups in terms of functionality and in reducing the pain; however, land-based exercise programs were more effective in increasing muscle strength. (3)
Importance of NUTRITION
For sports people, even for swimmers,nutrition is very important to get the best results, perform well and stay heathy.
Carbohydrate is the most important nutrient for athletes, because it is the main fuel our muscles use when we exercise. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you can run out of energy and won’t perform well. Eat a high carbohydrate meal before and after playing sport.
It is important to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Remember: alcohol dehydrates you.
Athletes who are trying to build up their muscle strength and size need to eat protein, but there is no need to eat huge amounts of protein or to buy expensive protein powders.
Eating some protein and carbohydrate together straight after training will help your muscles recover and grow stronger. (4)
Start with a good breakfast. And remember a pre work-out snack. Some suggestions:
- Glass of milk and a banana
- Peanut butter on wholegrain bread
- Nuts/dried fruit
After exercise you will need protein to help your poor muscles recover.
For your meal,s choose ONE of the following
- Chicken with wholegrain pasta
- Tuna with wholegrain bread/pasta
- Small Baked potato with chilli/beans/tuna
- Egg/beans on wholegrain toast
And add to it any of the following…
Take a protein shake!
The aim of taking a protein shake immediately after heavy exercise is to deliver amino acids (the body’s building blocks) to maximise or maintain muscle mass, keep your metabolism high, boost your immune system and maximise your recovery.
- The best and most effective time to take it is immediately (within 15 minutes) after heavy training sessions such as weight training, power or high intensity interval efforts. Take a milk shake (skimmed milk with banana) (5)
Suggestions for Breakfast:
For you 5 good breakfast ideas to help with working out:
- Cereal. Avoid anything with the words ‘choco’ or ‘frost’ in them. They may taste good but the high sugar levels are a disaster for your metabolism and will only provide a fast energy surge while promoting fat storage. Even many boxed cereals which claim to be healthy due to their whole wheat content are high in sugar so they may keep you satisfied for slightly longer but are still not as healthy as they promise.
- Go natural. Natural sources such as oatmeal and porridge oats are the best cereal you can find. But if you need a boxed cereal in your life, include whole wheat products now and again.
- Bread. The world would be a healthier place without white flour breads. Instead go for whole wheat options such as wholemeal or granary with complex carbohydrates in them.
- Start on an egg. Eggs and beans are a protein-high compliment to your toast but jam, honey and marmalade, although high in sugars, are fine in small amounts.
- Avoid the fry up. It can be hard to resist fried bacon and sausages first thing, but they are going to do you no favours. The high fat levels will inhibit nutrient and energy absorption. Notch up an early one of your five a day with some fresh fruit, maybe with some low-fat yoghurt.
Breakfast ideas don’t stop at food. When it comes to breakfast try to steer clear of the high sugar fruit juices if you a looking to lose a little weight. If you like fruit juices go for 100% freshly squeezed produce. Try 300ml of milk is spot on.
Contrary to popular belief, nobody should be ‘above’ snacking. It’s a good way of keeping your blood sugar level and metabolism constant and is important to maintain your performance during a workout.
- Great snacking foods are fruits (fresh is best but dried are still okay), energy foods (cereal bars, energy drinks, protein shakes), yoghurt (low fat if possible) or whole grain foods (whole wheat cereal or wholemeal toast).
- Unsalted nuts are also an excellent source of protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. Common examples are Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios or walnuts. (6)
How many calories you burn when swimming. Discover here with the calculator online:
- Metabolism. 2010 Nov;59(11):1562-73. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2010.02.001. Epub 2010 Mar 2.A comparison of the effects of swimming and walking on body weight, fat distribution, lipids, glucose, and insulin in older women–the Sedentary Women Exercise Adherence Trial 2. Cox KL1, Burke V, Beilin LJ, Puddey IB.
- Complement Ther Med. 2011 Apr;19(2):93-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2011.02.002. Epub 2011 Mar 27.Upright water-based exercise to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health: a qualitative review. Meredith-Jones K1, Waters D, Legge M, Jones L.
- Revista Brasileira de Reumatologia (English Edition). Volume 56, Issue 6, November–December 2016, Pages 530-542