Swimming Pool Exercise Provides Same Benefit As Regular Exercise

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

To anyone who has ever compared a 30-minute jog to a 30-minute swim, this next report may not surprise you.

There seems to be a preconception about exercise that, unless it´s a miserable experience in every way, it´s not really effective. Alternatively, anything done in a pool is often perceived as fun or play. Therefore, the notion of exercising in a pool, not a wacky thought, is often seen as more play than work.

At least, that´s the attitude Dr. Martin Juneau assumes people have towards combining exercise and water.

In a study to be presented today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, Dr. Juneau has found that those who exercise in a pool receive the same health benefits as those land-loving health nuts.

Specifically, those who spent time on an immersible ergo cycle (fancy talk for “underwater bike”) had a near equivalent workout experience as those who rode a traditional bike on land.

“If you can´t train on land, you can train in the water and have the same benefits in terms of improving aerobic fitness,” explained Dr. Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute in a press statement.

His new study flies against the possible assumption that the resistance of water makes for an easier workout. To conduct his studies, Dr. Juneau observed “healthy people” as they biked on land and in the water. These participants had their intensity levels increase each minute until they could no longer pump the pedals.

In both exercises, the maximal oxygen consumption was the same across the board. This maximal oxygen consumption is a way to determine just how effective a work out has been.

Dr. Juneau´s partner in the study, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute, even went so far as to say a water-based exercise might even be better than a land-based exercise.

“Exercise during water immersion may be even more efficient from a cardiorespiratory standpoint,” adds Dr. Mathieu Gayda.

Dr. Juneau remains cautiously optimistic, however, noting that another study had shown that the heart rates between the exercises were different. Specifically, those who had pedaled the bike on dry ground had a slightly higher heart rate than those who pedaled underwater. This, says Dr. Juneau, could be a simple result of physics.

“You pump more blood for each beat, so don´t need as many heartbeats, because the pressure of the water on your legs and lower body makes the blood return more effectively to the heart. That´s interesting data that hasn´t been studied thoroughly before,” says Dr. Juneau.

There are some, like those who have joint pain or are very overweight, who have trouble with traditional exercises, such as cycling and running. This test proves that there are other alternatives to these kinds of exercise, says Dr. Juneau, adding that while not everyone can swim, it remains the best form of exercise available.

“This is a great alternative,” he says.

Dr. Beth Abramson, a spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation is also pleased with these results, saying that any exercise is good exercise, and more people need to be doing it.

“Inactive people who become physically active can reduce their risk of heart attack risk by 35 to 55 per cent, plus lower their chance of developing several other conditions, cut stress levels and increase energy,” explains Dr. Abramson in the press release.

“Even if you have difficulty moving more, there are always solutions, as this study shows. This is encouraging given the aging population. It´s never too late or too difficult to make a lifestyle change,” noted Abramson.