Benefits Of Swimming For People With Disabilities

Aug 03, 2015
Tagged with: Benefits Of Swimming For People With Disabilities

According to the US Census Bureau 2012, swimming is among the top five popular sports activities in the United States and a great way for people to have an aerobic activity. Individuals with disabilities can get more health benefits by being physically active.Although everyone is unique, people with disabilities are limited in opportunities to be as physically active as people without a disability. A sedentary lifestyle can  expose anyone to a greater risk of certain health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, or high blood pressure. This means that for people with disability, it’s important to be as physically active as possible. It’s crucial to look for ways to overcome any barriers that you are likely to face as you try to become more physically active.

By just dedicating about three hours every week for swimming, you could drastically reduce your chances of secondary health conditions. People who swim have a better chance of improving their health when compared to people who are inactive. Further, swimmers with limited mobility enjoy swimming than exercising on land as they are able to exercise longer in the water without putting strain on their muscles or joints. For families that don’t have easy access to public pools, you can consider building an in-ground pool or simply install an above the ground pool that fit you needs.

Mental Health benefits

Swimming as a recreational activity leaves you with a positive feeling which improves your mental health. For people with fibromyalgia, this activity decreases stress and swimming in warm water can wane depression and improve mood. If you are an expecting mother with a disability, swimming is a safe activity for you and for the unborn child. Swimming activity can impact a mother’s mental health.

Improved behavioral outcomes

For parents with children of any disability, recreational activities such as swimming helps the children improve their family connections. Even for adults, swimming boosts confidence and improves their social skills. Swimming with other people in a public pool enhances community spirit and it provides a chance to meet new people and develop social skills. Spending some time at the pool or the beach with family and friends also increases the shared memories and thus better mental health through socialization and intimacy.

Improves physiological well being

For people with disability who likes sports, swimming can foster a competitive spirit. According to researchers in a public health publication “Salud Pública de México”(2010), perceived competition improves psychological well being thus improving mental health. Furthermore, being involved in recreational and competitive sports can greatly increase their independence. This in turn improves their self confidence which leads to improved quality of life.

Physical Health Benefits

Swimming helps people with chronic diseases. For instance, people with arthritis who engage in swimming make use of the affected joints without making the symptoms worse. People with rheumatoid arthritis have better health improvements after engaging in swimming than with any other activity. Swimming also helps in improving the use of affected joints and minimizes any pain from osteoarthritis. Water makes one buoyant and supports weight, joint, muscles and spine.

Increased muscle endurance

Water offers resistance that’s great for your muscle endurance and strength training. It’s important for people with disabilities to increase their muscular strength and endurance. In addition, swimming is an outstanding cardiovascular exercise which helps strengthen your heart muscle. Remember that your heart is a muscle that needs exercise and swimming is that perfect activity.

Enhances skills at performing transfers

Swimming as a form of exercise helps improve skills at performing transfers such as getting from the wheelchair to the pool and vice-versa. However, this should be done carefully to avoid any injuries. If you are swimming in a residential pool, it should be well designed to cater for the needs of a person with disability. The pool water chemicals should be safe for swimming and regular maintenance of the pool should be observed to avoid any negative effects.

Swimming and seniors

According to the American family physician, three out of every four baby boomers do not get enough exercise. As a senior, you should know that you are never too old to swim. Swimming is particularly beneficial to aging people as it exercises the entire body without straining your muscles and joints. Swimming also helps in increasing bone density in post menopausal women. By increasing your bone density, you lower the risk of breaking bones should you fall.  Many seniors swim in therapy pools because the warm water helps relieve any aches and pains as well as improve blood circulation. If you are a senior citizen, swimming may also motivate you to take up other exercise habits and increase your participation in other types of activities.


US Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012. Arts, Recreation, and Travel: Participation in Selected Sports Activities 2009

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Be active, healthy, and happy! In Chapter 2: Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits.External Web Site Icon Last verified on December 23, 2009.

Sato D, Kaneda K, Wakabayashi H, and Nomura T. 2007. The water exercise improves health-related quality of life of frail elderly people at day service facility. Qual Life Res. 16:1577-85.

Westby MD. 2001. A health professional’s guide to exercise prescription for people with arthritis: a review of aerobic fitness activities. Arthritis Care and Res. 45(6):501-11.

Author: Daniel Shir

  • bobl07

    With it being summer, I try to swim as much as possible before rugby season starts. It is the best type of exercise for me to work on my back muscles and shoulders.

  • Jaqui Humes

    I have a daughter with Down Syndrome and PDD. We have tried to take her to the public pool but she complains of water in her ears. Now she has a skin disorder and the ymca discourages use of public pool. I would like to buy her a pool with her educational settlement but how can I claim the pool for an educational expense? I could hire a private teacher to work with her. Please advise and let me know what above ground pools could have ADA steps….she cannot access pool by ladder.