The Benefits of Swimming
While swimming can be of great social, mental, and physical benefit to people without disabilities, it can have just as much, if not more, beneficial impact for people with disabilities. Research indicates that people with disabilities experience lower rates of social activity and leisure-time physical activity than people without disabilities and report sad feelings or depression four times more often. People with disabilities who are encouraged to participate in recreational activities such as swimming can achieve a greater sense of individual wellness and overall satisfaction with life.
At times, many people with disabilities only have contact with the water during aquatic therapy. Although aquatic therapy is a popular means of rehabilitation for many people with permanent and temporary disabilities, recreational swimming and aquatic activities are as attractive for people with disabilities as they are for people without disabilities. In the water, disabilities may be forgotten as a person enjoys the feeling of buoyancy, plays games, and interacts with other swimmers. Self-determination and strength are improved, as we compete, we relax, and we have fun!
One example of the benefits of recreational swimming is found in the Arthritis Aquatics BASIC class at the Monroe County (IN) YMCA. Class participants enjoy renewed interest in recreational swimming, increased balance and strength, and improved agility. Participants also experience social opportunities consisting of meeting new people and making new friends. Esther Lohrmann, a participant in the aquatics class, does not have arthritis, but does have back trouble. "I have been with the aquatics arthritis class since last January and I enjoy it very much ... my back feels much stronger. I have made many friends in this class --- it's a great group."