Swimming Is Medicine

Swimming Is Medicine

Dr. Robert Sallis, Chairman of Exercise is Medicine®, spoke at the International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport in Glasgow, Scotland in July as part of the official sports medicine conference for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Dr. Sallis, a practicing physician from California, gave the closing keynote lecture on the topic of Exercise is Medicine; Realizing the Health Benefits of Exercise.

One key recommendation of Dr. Sallis’ message was specific, “…sports medicine professionals need to lead the charge in promoting the health benefits of physical activity, to remind all healthcare professionals around the world that Exercise IS Medicine and they should prescribe it.”

Exercise is Medicine®, a joint initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association, aims to make physical activity and exercise a standard part of a global disease prevention and treatment medical paradigm. And the paradigm is catching on from shore to shore in the United States.

On the east coast, innovative physicians like Dr. Jim Miller, an open water swimmer from Virginia and a member of the FINA Sports Medicine Committee, understands the benefits of exercise for his patient population that is increasingly overweight and diabetic. He routinely prescribes a fitness program at a local sports center to his patients instead of merely prescribing more medications. He considers his patients’ physical activities as a vital parameter to consider on every patient visit and provides information and opportunities for his patients to begin exercise programs, leading to their overall health improvement.

I routinely discuss exercise with over 50% of my patients.”

On the west coast, visionary health care providers such a Memorial Care Hospital in Long Beach, California are incorporating a pool and open water swimming program for its employees of all ages and abilities. While land-based programs focusing on walking, jogging, weight-training, yoga and other fitness activities have been at the core of corporate fitness programs, swimming as an adult fitness program is just taking off across the United States.

Swimming Wellness or the Swimming is Medicine program is a combination of regular pool swimming sessions, POW (Pool Open Water) meets, and open water swimming for employees and their families. While there are many learn-to-swim programs for children, adults rarely have a structured swimming opportunities offered by their employers that is convenient to their working schedule,” explains Steven Munatones. “Swimming is Medicine is one step in this direction.”

It is one step in a lifestyle change for the better.

Lifestyle Medicine is the leading edge training for the future of outcomes based healthcare,” said Marc Braman, MD/MPH, Executive Director and Past President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. “Lifestyle Medicine is the use of lifestyle interventions such as nutrition, exercise, stress management, smoking cessation and a variety of other non-drug modalities in the treatment and management of disease. A growing body of scientific evidence has demonstrated that lifestyle medicine should be the foundation of treatment for chronic disease. It can be as effective as medication, but without the risks and unwanted side-effects.”

And as many swimmers realize, swimming is a form of preventative medicine with many positive side-effects.

Photo of Dr. Jim Miller by Skip Storch at the 2011 Global Open Water Swimming Conference at Columbia University.

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Steven Munatones