Swimming: Joint-friendly and Good for the Heart

Swimming is a lower impact way to keep your heart strong
ladies exercising in the pool

No matter your age, weight or condition, swimming is one of the best low-impact exercises. It’s ideal for everything from weight loss to cardiac rehabilitation to exercising with arthritis.

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Now a new study confirms swimming is terrific for your heart.

Even if you’re reluctant to exercise because of your arthritis, swimming and other water activities are easier to get into because they’re easier on your joints.

Study shows direct heart benefits from swimming

A study by the State University of New York showed that compared to non-swimmers, those who swim have:

  • Lower heart rates
  • Better blood pressure
  • Improved breathing
  • Improved circulation

Swimming was also found to be well tolerated by people in cardiac rehabilitation and recovering from heart failure or artery disease.

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A good option for heart patients

Michael Crawford, MS, who did not take part in the study but is a supervisor in cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic, agrees swimming is good aerobic exercise for heart patients.

“Swimming uses multiple body parts with more emphasis on the upper body,” Mr. Crawford says. He adds that open heart surgery patients should not use the pool until all surgical incisions are well healed.

Swimming easier for reluctant exercisers

Gordon Blackburn, PhD, also did not take part in the study but is an expert in cardiac rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Blackburn says people with arthritis or who aren’t in great condition — who can’t take the treadmill or are not going to get into bicycling — will find swimming can help their hearts with an activity that takes much less of a toll on the joints.

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Other water activities can be beneficial, too.

“You can take a water aerobics class,” suggests Dr. Blackburn. “You can do water walking, both shallow and deep-water.”

“Even if you’re just a little bit more active,” he says, “it all helps your heart.”

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