Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Health Care and Summer Swimming

Everyone loves to go swimming in the summer. When it's hot, there is nothing more fun and relaxing than to get to the beach, the pool, or the lake for a dip in the water to cool off. Kids and adults alike look forward to any opportunity they can get into the water to have a great time. Swimming during the summer can be an outstanding way to get exercise, stay cool when the sun is climbing high in the sky, and enjoy the great outdoors. Even going to an enclosed pool at the gym or a hotel is worth the cost, especially when the end result is to provide yourself with an inexpensive way to have alot of fun and relaxation.

According to Healthy.net, swimming is one of the best activities that you can perform for overall physical fitness for the following reasons:
1.) First, swimming involves almost all of your major muscle groups. For example, the standard crawl stroke uses the neck, shoulder, chest, back, triceps, and biceps muscles of the upper body, the abdominal, low back, and oblique muscles of the midsection, and the gluteal, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles of the legs.
2.) Second, swimming is an excellent exercise for conditioning your cardiovascular system. Although you won't go as far in a 20-minute swim as you will during 20 minutes of walking, running, or cycling, the cardiovascular benefits are essentially the same.
3.) Third, swimming seems to enhance joint flexibility, especially in the neck, shoulders, hips, and midsection area. Much of this is due to the repetitive twisting movements as your body turns from side to side during the crawl stroke.

According to Examiner.com, swimming is also a great way to tone up without the harsh impact on your joints that other sports can have. Because there is no running or jumping, swimming is a great activity for those who haven’t exercised in a while or may be recovering from injury. Incorporating swimming into your regular workouts gives you variety to keep you from getting bored and ensures that you’ll work more muscle groups than you would if you just stuck to one activity. Another benefit of swimming is that it’s a valuable life skill. People of nearly all ages and abilities can learn to swim and know that they can enjoy water-based activities with safety and confidence. Expert opinions vary on the right time to learn to swim, but most children can begin swimming successfully sometime around age 3.

Of course, exercising in water is a totally different experience than land-based activity, according to Healthy.net. For one thing, swimming requires a horizontal body position, that places less stress on your heart with respect to blood circulation. The gentle pressure of the water against your skin also enhances blood circulation. Because water is an isokinetic medium, the resistance varies in proportion to your muscle force. That is, when you give low muscle force against the water you encounter relatively low resistance from the water, and when you give high muscle force against the water you receive relatively high resistance from the water. Another advantage of aquatic exercise is the cooling effect of the water. Unlike hot weather activity on land, you are unlikely to overheat when swimming. What could be better than a cool pool, lake or ocean in which to exercise on a hot summer day.

However, according to LiveStrong.com, every aquatic environment poses risks, but knowing the specific risks associated with different types of environments can help you determine what steps to take to ensure your family's safety this summer. Open-water environments include beaches, lakes, rivers and ponds. These areas are often unguarded by lifeguards. According to the CDC, at beaches that have staffed and guarded hours, three-quarters of all drownings occur outside of those hours. And, by contrast, when those same beaches were guarded, the chances of drowning were one in 18 million. When possible, swim at areas that have lifeguards present. Swimming pool environments include public facilities, private facilities and residential facilities. In children ages 1 to 4, residential swimming pools pose the greatest risk for drowning. Make sure you take your family to facilities that have fences or other barriers surrounding the swimming pools so that the risk of a child slipping away unnoticed is diminished.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2005 there were 3,582 unintentional drownings in the U.S. About a quarter of those drownings occurred to children under 14 years old, and for every fatal drowning, there were four times as many nonfatal hospitalizations of children in this age group. The facts are clear: Aquatic deaths are a real and present danger in America, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the water this summer. You just need to follow basic aquatic safety guidelines, according to LiveStrong.com. The American Red Cross has a number of suggestions when it comes to water safety. Some of these include: Never swim alone, never trust one child's safety to another, enroll yourself or your child in swim lessons, wear a life jacket when boating or if you are not a proficient swimmer, and swim in areas that are being protected by a lifeguard. Drownings can occur in a matter of seconds, so make sure you are alert and aware while in an aquatic environment. Keep a constant eye on your children and survey the area for any potential dangers. Scan the area that you are swimming in about every 20 seconds to ensure everyone is still present and having fun.

Purchase life jackets for everyone in your family, and whenever boating or participating in open-water activities, require that they be worn. Make sure your life jackets are Coast Guard approved (this approval is on the tag or printed on the jacket) and that they are designed for the weight of the person wearing it, according to LiveStrong.com. Children should not wear adult-sized jackets. Life jackets are designed to keep a person at the surface of the water, face-up so that they can breathe. Reaching and throwing equipment, like ring buoys or rescue hooks, are required by law at all swimming pools, but unfortunately are not always present at open-water environments. These tools are used to reach a victim without risking injury to the rescuer. If you know you will be at a river or lake that is unguarded, purchase a ring buoy and practice how to use it before your trip.

The American Red Cross suggests having a cell phone, first aid kit, throwing equipment and life jackets with you whenever you are around water. The Red Cross suggests that if a child goes missing, check the water first. In an aquatic emergency, if the victim appears to be unconscious or if the victim is submerged, immediately call 911. If the victim is conscious, try to throw a ring buoy to him and tow him to safety. If this does not work, approach the victim from the behind and grip the victim with your forearms by reaching under the victim's armpits and grasping the victim's shoulders. You should then either swim to safety, or wait for additional help. Never risk your own safety to save someone else. And, alcohol and water do not mix well together. The CDC reports that about half of all drownings with adults and adolescents involve alchohol. Plus, avoid swimming outdoors in bad weather. If strong winds, thunderstorms, or bad currents are happening, postpone your outing for another day, according to LiveStrong.com. Better safe than sorry.

When swimming in a small pool with a deep end, caution your children about diving in the deep end, according to Woodalls.com. Small pools like you find in most backyards and motels have a very short deep end which slants up to the shallow end. The slope is an accident waiting to happen. Children tend to have a major growth spurt around age 12. The increased height and body weight cause them to go deeper and faster then they expect. If they are diving toward that slope, they could hit it, which can cause sever back injuries or even death. And, horseplay around and in the pool is inevitable, but, before you hoist the six year old on to your shoulders to play “chicken fight” think about the cement edge of the pool and its proximity to your child’s head when you get knocked down. In other words use common sense. If you are stopping at someone else’s home for a visit and they have a pool, make sure the gate that closes off the pool is closed. Check to see if your child can open the gate or easily climb the fence. If there is no fence around the backyard pool do not let the child out without a responsible adult who is aware that they are watching the child.

Every year emergency rescue is busy all over the country because someone dove of the rocks into the good old swimming hole and hit a rock. Remember river bottoms change as the current slowly moves the rocks on the bottom, according to Woodalls.com. Don’t assume that last years diving hole is as deep this year as it was last. Sometimes a boulder only has to shift a few feet to create a major hazard. Know what hazards are typical in the geographical region you are visiting. Are there water snakes? Are they poisonous? Are there alligators? How is the water quality? Some swimming holes do get polluted. This is especially true after a good rain. All the fecal matter and other pollutants get washed into the river, lake or pond. It is safest to wait at least 3 days after a good rain to enter the water. Natural swimming areas are not chlorinated. Bacteria are always a concern. For the sake of fellow swimmers don’t let the young members of your family just strip down out of the diaper and go into the water. Use swim diapers. If the cost to your wallet and the environment bother you, there are reusable eco friendly swim diapers available for about $10.00 a pair. Remember while you are keeping the baby from polluting the water you are also giving a certain amount of protection in reverse.

Swimming during the summer can be great fun. Just be careful, and follow the rules when you are out at the beach, the lake, or the pool. Don't be the next story on the six o'clock news.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

No comments: