Swimming is a great way to exercise and have fun. There are many health benefits to swimming including getting or staying in shape, relieving stress, building muscles, and increasing flexibility. These benefits appear with only 2.5 hours of water-based physical activity per week. An added benefit to swimming is since your body is buoyant, or able to float in the water, there is less stress on your joints and bones than if you were to exercise on land. This makes it easier for anyone to get in some exercise. However, it is still important to stay mindful of your health and safety while swimming.
How can you stay safe and healthy while swimming this summer?
- Try to swim in places where a lifeguard is present. If there is no lifeguard on duty ensure that there is safety equipment, such as a rescue ring, nearby.
- Never swim alone! You should always use the buddy system while in the water.
- Make sure young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a properly fitting life jacket when they are near the water. The life jacket should be U.S. Coastguard-approved. Foam or air-filled flotation devices are not recommended.
- Always pay close attention to your children or grandchildren. You should maintain constant supervision of children in or around the water.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. You should avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you. Alcohol is also dangerous as it can impair judgment, balance, and coordination and reduce the body’s ability to stay warm.
- Do not drink the water. Be sure to spit it out if water gets in your mouth. Water contains germs that can make you sick – even just one mouthful. You can help prevent the spread of germs in the water by showering before you get in, covering open wounds with a waterproof bandage, and checking children’s diapers frequently.
- Practice sun safety by wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Be sure to use a water resistant sunscreen and reapply regularly according to the product directions. You should also try to limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM to avoid sunburn.
- Dry your ears thoroughly with a towel when you are done swimming to prevent infection or swimmer’s ear.
- If you are at the beach always check for warnings before getting in the water. If you are swimming in the ocean and get caught in a rip current stay calm. Do not try to fight the current. Swim parallel to shore until you are out of the current. Once you are out you can swim towards shore.
For more information on safe and healthy swimming visit: http://www.cdc.gov/features/healthyswimming/ or http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety/swim-safety