Surprising ways a dip in the pool can improve your health

WASHINGTON — With summer fast approaching, pool season is almost here — and your dip in the pool offers some surprising health benefits.

Along with being an excellent source of calorie-burning exercise, studies suggest swimming can improve the social skills of kids with autism and soothe sore knees, Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club™ blog, told WTOP.

Swimming is a particularly useful exercise option for people with limited mobility, such as older people, paraplegics and pregnant women, Squires said.

“If we get into a pool, we have some buoyancy and it just makes us feel so much better … For anybody who’s having some mobility issues on land, swimming is really a great place for them to get some good exercise,” she told WTOP’s Mark Lewis and Debra Feinstein

Sally Squires on the health benefits of swimming

But how many calories can you burn doing those laps?

In general, a 130-pound person who swims a fast freestyle for an hour will burn nearly 600 calories. Someone who weighs 155 pounds would burn even more calories — about 700.

A lot depends on the intensity of your activity and your weight, and there are different online calculators and wearable devices that allow you to log your activity and track how many calories you’re burning.

Beyond burning calories, swimming offers a range of benefits, Squires said.

She referred to a study out of Taiwan that measured the effects of swimming classes on children with autism spectrum disorders. Researchers took 16 boys with autism spectrum disorders and divided them into two groups. Half of the boys were placed in a 10-week swimming program. The boys who took swimming classes showed “significant social improvements” compared to the control group, according to the story.

Another recent study indicated water exercise can help reduce pain for people from suffer arthritis, Squires said. After an eight-week aquatic class held three times a week, study subjects with arthritis reported less pain and stiffness and fewer difficulties carrying out their daily activities.

“They also just felt better about themselves, which is really nice,” Squires said.

“And, they increased their muscle strength. So, again, a real win-win for people just to get in the pool three times a week and it can really help their joints.”

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.


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