5 Benefits Of Swimming For Arthritis

Dhwani Shah
July 16, 2024
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.

Managing arthritis often involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Among these, exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining joint function and overall health. However, finding the right type of exercise that is gentle on the joints yet effective can be challenging. This is where swimming comes in.

Swimming, thanks to the multitude of benefits it offers, is not only a fantastic arthritic workout, but also great choice of exercise for arthritis prevention. Here are a few reasons why swimming is good for those with arthritis -

1. Reduces the stress on joints

Swimming is a low impact workout 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.

a man floating in a pool

2. Relieves muscle and joint pain and stiffness

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.

Pro tip - It could be a good idea to exercise in a heated pool as the warmth helps to relax muscles and increase blood circulation, which can reduce pain and stiffness in the joints. The heat also enhances the flexibility of connective tissues, making it easier to move and perform exercises.

a man and woman relaxing in a heated pool

3. Lowers risk of circulatory system diseases

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. 

4. Improves muscle strength 

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.

a muscular man with swim gear getting out of the pool

5. It's fun and social

Exercising might be the last thing you feel like doing when you're suffering from joint and muscle pain and fatigue. However, swimming is not only effective in alleviating symptoms and improving joint function, it is 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, and 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!

The enjoyable, relaxed and social nature of swimming can transform exercise from a chore into an activity you look forward to, helping to foster both physical and mental well-being over time.

Pro tip - Swim schools can create a welcoming environment for adults with arthritis by offering small, specialized classes geared towards their needs. These classes can provide a safe and comfortable space for individuals to exercise at their own pace, build social connections, and alleviate arthritic pain while experiencing the joys of swimming in a supportive and understanding group.

two women swimming in a pool

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.

Here are a few mobility exercises and stretches you could try to improve flexibility and range of motion -

Additionally, you could also give a shot to other no to low-impact sport activities like yoga, tai chi, cycling, and using an elliptical machine that is easier on your joints.

Swimming and other water-based exercises offer several benefits for individuals suffering from arthritis. Its low impact nature, combined with the supportive and therapeutic properties of water, makes it an ideal form of exercise for relieving arthritic pain and enhancing physical movement. By incorporating swimming into your routine, you can not only alleviate arthritis symptoms but also enjoy a fun and engaging activity that supports long-term health and well-being. So don't let arthritis hold you back, dive in and swim your joint pain away!

If you are a swim school or a swim instructor dedicated to the health and well-being of your students, Classcard, with its efficient swim school management software can help you stay at the top of your game! With its practical and easy-to-use features, you can now effortlessly schedule classes, track attendance, manage payments, and much more.

Mental Health
Swim School
Dhwani Shah

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