Is Swimming the Secret of “The Fountain of Youth”? By: Bev Filer

optmize your swimmingDo you love secrets?  I do, especially when they offer the promise of a healthy and happy future!  After all, we know that health is wealth!  Folks at Brunswick Plantation and Golf Resort are very interested in an active and healthy lifestyle. We have talked about the many opportunities offered here to stay in shape for a variety of social activities…At the Brunswick House, the golf course and biking, to mention a few!  Everyone wants to join in on the “Fun in the Sun”!

I have always admired the lovely fountains at Brunswick Plantation and have written about their youth giving qualities. We have compared them to the Ponce de Leon’s search for the legendary “Fountains of Youth” in Bimini….From Bimini to Brunswick”!  The fountains sometimes seem like the water talking to us! The sound of water relaxes and inspires us at the same time! 

In our quest for maintaining good health, researchers have found that one of the most interesting may be closer than we think…Our neighborhood pool! There are a few at Brunswick Plantation:

*Two at the Brunswick Club House One outdoor and one indoor

*Two outdoor pools at “The Lakes”

* Two Pools for guests at the Commons Golf Villas…Plus an indoor   pool by Commons I.

I found an interesting article on-line with a range of benefits of swimming titled 10 Health Benefits of Swimming by Michael Franco

 Franco’s 10 Benefits of Swimming include:

10. The Ability to Do More with less

Swimming offers the ability to work your body without harsh impact to your skeletal system.

How? When the body is submerged in the water, it automatically becomes lighter. Immersed to the waist…The body bears just 50% of its weight,  Immersed to the chest…The weight the body bears reduces to 25 to 35 %,  Immersed to the neck…Your body bears 10% of your weight…The other 90% is handled by the pool!

**Result: The pool provides the ideal place to work stiff muscles and sore joints, especially if you’re overweight or suffer from arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation recommends the right type of exercise for those with arthritis should be exercises that:

  • Stretch muscles
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Provide an aerobic workout

A few laps in the pool do all three!

If the pool is heated, the warm water can help loosen stiff joints, which is even better for arthritis sufferers! People with rheumatoid arthritis receive greater benefits to their health after participating in hydrotherapy than with other activities.  It has also been proven that water based exercise improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis. (Source: CDC)

9. Increased Muscle Tone and Strength

Swimming is a great way to increase muscle strength and muscle tone. When a swimmer is propelling himself through the water – a substance 12 times as dense as air (Source: Yeager), every kick and arm stroke becomes a resistance exercise. It is well known that resistance exercises are the best ways to build muscle tone and strength.

 **Another bonus to workout in water: Swimming has also been shown to improve bone strength – especially in post-menopausal women. (Source:Huang,et al.)

8. Improved Flexibility

Swimming puts the body through a broad range of motions that helps joints and ligaments stay loose and flexible. The arms move in wide arcs, the hips are engaged as the as the legs scissor through the water, the head and spine twist from side to side. Plus, with every stroke, as you reach forward, you’re lengthening the body, which not only makes it more efficient in the water, it also helps give you a good stretch from head to toe.

 To increase your flexibility beyond the natural gains you get from swimming, you might finish your workout with a series of gentle stretches. The support of the water should help you maintain positions involving tricky balance – such as a quadriceps stretch – for longer periods of time.

7. A Healthier Heart

Though we can see that swimming helps tone visible muscles, triceps, quads, and pectorals, it also helps to improve the most important muscle in the body: The Heart!  As we know…You’ve got to have Heart!

Swimming is an aerobic exercise that helps strengthen the heart:

  • Helping it become larger
  • Making it more efficient in pumping a better blood flow through the body

Research shows that aerobic exercises can combat the body’s inflammatory response…A key link in the chain that can lead to heart disease. (Source: Columbia University Medical Center)

The American Heart Association… Reports 30 minutes of exercise per day, such as swimming, can reduce coronary heart disease in women by 30 – 40%. 

An analysis by the Annals of Internal Medicine shows regular aerobic exercise could reduce blood pressure. (Source: Bobalik)

6. Weight Control

Swimming is now recognized as one of the biggest calorie burners around and great for keeping weight under control. The number of calories burned depends on your own physiology and intensity within with which you exercise. 

General Rule: 10 minutes of swimming breast stroke will burn 60 calories; backstroke burns 80 calories; butterfly stroke burns 150calories.To boost calorie burning component of swimming, one might consider using intervals in which you work hardest for short bursts and then recover. (Source: Peterson)

 

 

5. Improved Asthma Symptoms

Swimming provides a chance to work out in moist air, which can help reduce exercise – induced asthma symptoms. Exercise can improve lung volume and teach proper breathing techniques.

4. Improved Cholesterol

It is important to have the right ratio of cholesterol in your body rather than just having low amounts. Specifically, it is beneficial to have higher levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lower levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL).  Swimming can get these in the right balance thanks to its aerobic power, which has been proven to raise HDL levelsFor every 1 percent increase in HDL cholesterol, the risk of dying from heart disease drops by 3.5 percent. (Source: Bobalik)

Studies show that aerobic exercise like swimming can keep your endothelium in good shape. What is endothelium? Endothelium is a thin layer of cells that lines your arteries, and tends to lose flexibility as you age. In one study of people in their sixties, who participated in aerobic exercise, endothelium function was found equal to those found in those 30 to 40 years younger. The theory is that because aerobic exercise causes arteries to expand and contract, it keeps them fit. (Source: Bobalik)

3. Lower Risk of Diabetes

 Aerobic exercise, such as swimming, has been shown to have a powerful effect to ward off Type 2 diabetes. In one study, men with 30 minutes of breast stroke swimming three times a week could burn 900 calories – reducing their risk of diabetes 6 percent for every 500 calories a week burned in aerobic exercise. (source:Bobalik)

A study focused on women showed that rigorous exercise just once a week (Like a robust swimming session) lowered risk of contracting diabetes by 16% over inactive women.

2. Lower Stress, Higher Spirits, & A Better Brain

 

The release of Feel-Good chemicals known as endorphins is one of swimming’s most pleasant side effects. A natural high, swimming can evoke the relaxation response the same way as yoga works on the body. This is due to constant stretching and relaxing of your muscles combined with deep rhythmic breathing.  Swimming is also a meditative exercise.  The sound of breathing and the splash of water act as a sort of mantra that can help “drown out” distractions.

 

Aside from the metaphysical benefits, of swimming, research has shown it can actually change the brain for the better through a process known as hyppocampal neurogenesis in which the brain replaces cells lost through stress (Source: Borchard

 

1.     You Might Just Live Longer

 

Researchers at the University of South Carolina followed 40,747 men, aged 20 – 90 for 32 years and discovered that those who swam had a 50% lower death rate than runners, walkers, who those who got no exercise. The study authors concluded that the same benefits would be received by aqua-women. (Source: Prevention)

 

In addition to the pools at Brunswick Plantation and Golf Resort, we also have water aerobics offered six days a week at the Brunswick House clubhouse for owners. They are at 8:00 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and at 8:20 on Tuesday and Thursday…. Brunswick Plantation’s way to stay fit and have fun with friends!

 

So, swimming may not be the secret of living forever, but an answer to living longer and feeling younger and healthier!             That may be the modern day secret to “The Fountain of Youth”! How do you feel about swimming as a part of your life-style? We’d love to hear your personal stories about your swimming experiences or you approach to your idea of “The Fountain of Youth”!

 

Franco, Michael.  “10 Health Benefits of Swimming”  17 May 2011.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/retirement/10-health-benefits-of-swimming.htm> 07 March 2013.

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