5 Benefits Of Swimming For Arthritis
April 18, 2023
3 min read
Arthritis is a condition where a joint becomes painful and inflamed, which can make the movement difficult. Those living with arthritic pain know how exhausting and distressing it can be. More than 22% of American adults (over 52.5 million people) have arthritis or another rheumatic condition diagnosed by a doctor.
There are two main types of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — which damage joints in different ways. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Rheumatoid arthritis is much less common, but both can be equally painful and physically and mentally taxing. Swimming can be a good choice of exercise if you have arthritis because of the multiple benefits that it offers. Here are a few-
Swimming is a low impact activity that puts minimal strain on your joints and muscles. When in the pool, the water provides buoyancy; around 90 percent of your body weight is supported by the water, thus providing a cushion for the joints and creating an environment to subdue the pain in your joints and muscles. While high impact activities like running, jogging, or even walking can put additional stress on your joints and muscles and speed up the progression of arthritis, swimming offers your joints the same mobility, minus the impact of the solid ground.
Moreover, swimming is an excellent aerobic activity to lose weight – the average person burns anywhere from 400 to 600 calories during one hour of swimming. Since excess weight places undue pressure on the joints, exacerbating arthritis, swimming can be a great choice to keep arthritis at bay or delay its onset.
Swimming stimulates blood flow and circulation, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and joints, and in turn, reducing muscle stiffness and easing pain. You don't need to swim lap after lap; simply moving your body through the water boosts blood flow to the affected joints and also reduces inflammation and relieves muscle strain. This relief allows you to stretch and move your muscles without much constraint and makes joints flexible, limber and agile, enhancing your range of motion. It might be a good idea to exercise in a heated pool as the warmth helps ease stiff joints.
Swimming regularly is a great cardio workout. It lowers your heart rate, improves your blood pressure, strengthens your lungs and heart and helps your circulation. Since rheumatoid arthritis is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, regular exercise such as swimming can lower this risk and improve your overall heart health.
Swimming is not only a great way to build cardiovascular fitness, but muscle strength and joint structure as well. Moving through water offers more resistance than air, thus making it harder for your muscles to move through the water. Working against the water improves muscle tone without much discomfort. Furthermore, maintaining strong muscles through regular exercise helps in keeping the joint structures in place, preventing rheumatoid arthritis from getting worse.
Exercising might be the last thing you feel like doing when you're suffering from joint pain and fatigue. However, swimming is not only effective, but also fun, which makes it more likely for people to stay engaged and committed. Moreover, the pool is a great place to meet and interact with people in a casual setting. New friendships can be great for your mental health. And of course, all exercise releases endorphins - feel good hormones, and a positive mind goes a long way in maintaining good physical health!
Swimming is certainly a fantastic way to stay healthy and active. However, you could also try other water based activities like water walking, water jogging and aqua aerobics to maintain fluidity and flexibility in your joints and mobilize your muscles.
Additionally, you could also give other no to low impact sport activities like yoga, tai chi, cycling, and using an elliptical machine that are easier on your joints a shot.
Swimming and other water-based exercises offer several benefits for relieving arthritis pain and for your overall health as well. So don't let arthritis hold you back, swim your joint pain away!