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by Elaine K Howley

September 1, 2020

Chlorine kills germs, and low-impact aerobic exercise is a great antidote to cabin fever

The year 2020 will go down in history as being one of the most challenging we’ve ever faced. In particular, the deepening coronavirus crisis that’s been fraying everyone’s nerves since mid-March doesn’t appear likely to go away anytime soon.

As various parts of the country grapple with restrictions and reopening procedures, many of us are finding our daily lives disrupted time and again. For many, that means less access to a preferred fitness location or routine.

If you’re feeling unmotivated to work out because of stress, lack of access to your gym, or you’re otherwise unable to partake of your usual fitness plans, why not try swimming?

As pools begin reopening, they may be the best option for getting back into a workout groove. Not convinced? Here are seven reasons why you can feel good about taking up swimming, even during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Chlorine Kills the Virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consistently noted that when chlorine or other disinfectants are properly maintained, pool water doesn’t transmit the coronavirus. If the pool has the proper chemical balance, it’s not a source of concern.

Pools are Taking the Threat Seriously

In light of the fact that the virus spreads most readily from person to person via aerosolized droplets expelled from the lungs, most pools have made big changes to how they operate. New protocols are being put into place that limit the number of people who can be in the building and strictly limit how many people can be using the pool at once. Many pools also have instated a buffer time between swimming sessions so staff members can disinfect all shared surfaces.

At some facilities, swimmers are limited to one person per lane, and some advise swimmers that they may only stop at one end of the pool—the opposite end from swimmers on either side. These protocols can take a little getting used to, but they greatly cut down on person-to-person contact and the chances that the virus can spread from one pool patron to another.

You Don’t Need Much Gear or Share Any

Unlike playing a basketball game, where you’d be in close contact with other people breathing heavily and passing a ball from one person to the next, swimming is a mostly solitary sport that requires very little in the way of equipment. If you have a swimsuit, you’re most of the way there. Add a swim cap and a pair of goggles, and you’re ready to throw down some safe, contactless laps.

Gentle on Your Joints

If you’ve been mostly a couch potato over the past few months after your normal fitness routine got disrupted, swimming is a fabulous way to gently get back in shape. It’s a whole-body workout that builds strength and endurance through the gentle resistance of the water and a lot of breath work. You can get a stellar workout in just 30 or 40 minutes, and you’ll feel refreshed and squeaky clean afterwards.

It Opens up the Great Outdoors

If you’re already a capable swimmer or have gotten comfortable with a pool swimming routine, consider moving your exercise into open water, which is one of life’s greatest pleasures. You’ll have to do a little homework up front to make sure you’re selecting a safe place to swim, and you should always go with a buddy or a group of open water swimmers. Once you’ve found a location and swim mates, the sky’s the limit. Sunlight deactivates the coronavirus, and outdoors—where a much larger volume of moving air is likely to dilute any aerosolized clouds of the virus—transmission risk is lower. Wild swimming is an exhilarating treat that lets you explore and learn in ways you can’t in the pool.

Boost Your Overall Health

Because swimming is a cardiovascular exercise, it supports good lung health and may help you build up the lung strength to cope better with infections. In addition, exercise helps strengthen the immune system overall, which can prevent viruses and other pathogens from making you sick.

A Lifelong Sport

Because swimming is a gentle, non-weight-bearing physical activity, it’s great for folks who are just starting out with exercise and older adults who need to go easy on their joints. It’s also a top choice for people with disabilities that make working out on land more difficult or impossible. Many physical therapists use swimming and water-based exercises to help people rehab after injury or surgery, so you can be sure it’s good for you to move through water however feels right for your body.

In short, swimming might just be the perfect exercise to dive into during this pandemic. Give it a try today!


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