Do Swimmers Live Longer?

Do Swimmers Live Longer?

Courtesy of Steven Blair, International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education,

Dr. Steven Blair co-authored a fascinating study with his colleagues from the University of South Carolina Nancy L. Chase and Xuemei Sui in the August 2008 edition of the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education.

Dr Blair evaluated comprehensive physical exams and behavioral surveys from thousands of people who were enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study over the last 32 years – from 1971 to 2003 – and concluded with some great news for swimmers [see here].

Swimmers had the lowest death rate,” explains Dr. Blair who took into account age, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake, hypertension, other medical factors and family history. “This is the first report that examined mortality rates among swimmers in comparison with other types of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle. We conclude that men who swim for exercise have better survival rates than their sedentary peers.”

The study includes extensive medical and physical activity data on 40,547 men, ages 20 – 90 years with a total of 3,386 deaths that occurred during 543,330 man-years of observation. “These lower rates in swimmers compared with walkers and sedentary men might well be expected, but it is surprising that we also observed lower mortality in swimmers than in runners. Therefore, swimming appears to be a healthful alternative to other types of physical activity.”

The study population was limited to white, well-educated, middle- to upper-class men. Dr. Blair explains, “There is no compelling reason to assume that the benefits of swimming would be different for women or for men in other socioeconomic groups. In an earlier study in this same population, we found that both women and men had similar benefits from swimming in terms of fitness and other health indicators.”

Dr. Blair also found that swimmers had a higher cardiorespiratory fitness than walkers and sedentary people. “Swimming provides a healthful alternative to traditional modes of exercise for improving cardiorespiratory fitness and health for the general population, as well as for patients suffering from chronic diseases. Swimming may be a good alternative exercise for individuals who cannot participate in running or other forms of physical activity.”

A cause for celebration in the open water swimming world.

For read and download the study, visit here.

Photo above shows 43-year-old José Eduardo do Amaral Ferreira and Adherbal de Oliveira after completing the Travessia do Leme ao Pontal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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