Encouraging More Adults to Swim
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Fun and Healthy at the Same Time

The benefits of USMS

Linda Shoenberger | May 4, 2011

My brother gave me a book one Christmas called Younger Next Year. Ho hum, I thought. Looks like another boring self-help book. It sat on the shelf for about a year until I had run out of books to read. I didn’t have my Kindle at the time and I needed a good afternoon reading session after my 2-1/2 hour swim workout. So I cracked it open. And I read it practically straight through. Co-written by Manhattan internist Dr. Henry S. Lodge, who is on the faculty of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and his 70-year-old patient, ex-lawyer Chris Crowley, the book is based on medical research about health.

Lodge got a brainstorm one day that doctors spend their lives studying disease. They don’t focus on health. They learn how to treat disease once people become unhealthy. So he decided to expand his horizons and he began to pay attention to studies about health and aging and disease prevention. Chris Crowley became his subject. Crowley had come into the office one day complaining of general malaise. Basically he was complaining about growing old, getting weak and feeling lethargic.

The book is interesting in a way that rarely comes through in standard “let’s-get-healthy” books. It talks about cell regeneration and how it is stimulated by vigorous exercise. Crowley and Lodge discovered that really hard exercise (like tough swim practices) regenerates cells so that they don’t die and cause disease. Lodge put Crowley on a regimen of hard, fun exercise six days a week—four days of aerobic exercise and two days of weight lifting. Crowley chose to ski, run and hike—hard.

Swimmers have been doing this for years. We swim hard four, five and sometimes seven days a week. We go to competitions where we put our heart and soul into every race. And the key ingredient is we LOVE it. It is so easy for us simply because we love to swim. Lodge and Crowley discovered that working hard at an exercise you love not only makes your body healthy, it makes you feel happy. Cells are regenerated while engaged in a vigorous sport and happy feelings come from being with people who enjoy exercising together. Swimming makes me happy and I read articles all the time in SWIMMER and on usms.org about how much swimming makes other people happy and healthy.

On May 2, 1970 USMS was founded and today we have coaches standing on pool decks all over the country giving us the opportunity to get and stay healthy. We have almost 60,000 members across the United States. We are welcomed with open arms at swim practices daily throughout the U.S. What fun! In fact what more fun can we have than going to swim practice, getting healthy and happy with exercise and camaraderie?

The opportunities for health through swim fitness are vast because of USMS. Pool competitions, open water swims, workouts, clinics and swim camps abound because swimmers got together and said, “We love this sport. We want to do more of it. We want to swim hard for the rest of our lives.” And USMS has made it possible for us to do so. Whenever someone complains that they are “getting old,” we swimmers know they are really missing out. Ask them to join us! Tell them our doors are open all across the country at the pools. We’ll help them feel good and healthy just like we do.

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