Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"The Best" Exercise

"Yet some of the best physical activities for your body don't require the gym or that you get fit enough to run a marathon. These "workouts" can do wonders for your health. They'll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss.
"No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:
"Swimming. You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. "Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it's less weight bearing," explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Research finds that swimming can improve your mental state and put you in a better mood. Water aerobics is another option. These classes help you burn calories and tone up.

This is a cut from an email from the Harvard School of Medicine.

I would not be the one to discourage anyone from doing what they like, what they believe in, or what they want to like or believe in.  But swimming does not meet the criteria laid out above by the authors of this article.

As practiced by those who smoothly and easily glide along in the water, swimming does not:
-Help with weight control
-Improve your balance
-Improve range of motion (possible exception of the shoulders)
-Strengthen your bones
-"Protect" your joints

Swimming is NOT the perfect workout, and one could easily determine that by using the criteria above.

For the elderly, swimming low speed for long time durations is particularly lacking in strength building, bone stress (and therefore does not help with bone density), and range of motion for the lower body.  It is not going to help you get up of of the floor, and it WILL NOT help build the strength we all need in the torso to help us carry loads safely.

Swimming is by far better than doing nothing.  Sprinting for short, intense intervals is even better.  And swimming for intervals one day, and for endurance another day, in combination with a smart strength and conditioning program with barbells might be considered very complete.

Unfortunately, the "public health authorities" believe that we the consumer can only absorb simple messages with a simple premise and which does not require that we do much.  I can see why they think this way, but I recoil against pretending that not working very hard in the water is "the perfect exercise."  I hope my readers would strive for much more than that.

No comments:

Post a Comment