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18 Mar 2023
Swim England partners with Royal College of GP’s to promote swimming as medicine
By Tom Walker
Swim England partners with Royal College of GP’s to promote swimming as medicine
Regular swimming has been proven to help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
Photo: Shutterstock/CroMary
Healthcare professionals should consider recommending swimming and aquatic activities to their patients, as they can sometimes be ‘far more powerful’ compared to other healthcare interventions.

That is the message of a new campaign launched by Swim England and Royal College of GPs, which promotes the "transformative power" of being active in water.

The new ‘Swimming as Medicine’ initiative includes a series of videos highlighting the benefits of swimming.

The initial video features Dr Hussain Al-Zubaidi, a GP in Leamington Spa and RCGP Lifestyle and Physical Activity Clinical Champion.

He shares his thoughts and offers suggestions to other healthcare professionals on having physical activity conversations around swimming with their patients.

“At the Royal College of GPs, we appreciate just how important physical activity is for a healthy and happy life," Al-Zubaidi said.

"Swimming has several unique qualities which mean it is a fantastic option.

“My recommendation for any healthcare professional interested in signposting more patients is to get into the water themselves. Experience the benefits first hand so you can communicate this credibly.”

Regular swimming has been proven to help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It is also beneficial for those with arthritis, obesity, and joint pain, as the buoyancy of water reduces the impact on joints.

However, despite the clear benefits of swimming to individuals and communities, it is an option that can be overlooked within healthcare circles.

Andrew Power, Swim England water wellbeing specialist, said: “Our Value of Swimming report highlighted that more than 14 million people in England swim at some point each year, making it one of the nations’ most popular forms of activity.

“Yet in conversations with patients, some healthcare professionals might find it easier to suggest walking and other activities with fewer perceived benefits to encourage the least active to be active.

“In some senses, that could be the right course of action to follow and might work for some. However, we know from our own research that one in three people with a long-term health condition or impairment would prefer to swim if given the choice.

“We also know that both people and professionals feel that water has a unique ability to support those who may be hesitant to engage in other forms of physical activity, either due to lack of fitness, chronic pain, lack of balance, poor mobility or other barriers.

“This is why we wanted to further emphasise the individual benefits through the launch of this series.”

To watch the first video of the Swimming as Medicine video,click here.

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