Dr. Smith recommends swimming, for both adults and children, as an excellent way to tone the body because it develops the muscles of the upper body and the cardio-respiratory system (Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1995;71:295-300) without the wear and tear that can stem from other types of aerobic exercise.
And swimming doesn’t just improve your fitness level. When used in conjunction with other therapies, experts find that it prevents obesity, depression, heart disease and even asthma.
So, this summer, Dr. Smith encourages patients to jump into the pool or lake with the entire family. But don’t just splash around. Start doing laps or water aerobics.
For those who typically engage in impact sports, such as running, dance aerobics or tennis, non-impact swimming can give bones and joints needed respite. Plus, incorporating swimming into your fitness routine a few times per week provides exceptional cross-training, which may rocket athletic performance to the next level.
Because water supports body weight, athletes can achieve the aerobic exercise benefits of running without the gravitational stress associated with the sport. This is especially beneficial after suffering an injury.
In one study, runners who experienced low-back and hip pain substituted swimming along with chiropractic care. The result? A significant reduction in pain (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2005;28:e1-7).