Asthma and Swimming

Children along the edge of the pool wearing swimming caps

11% of Australians are affected by asthma, a chronic condition of the airways, and swimming is often the sport of choice for asthma sufferers!

Swimming is a common pastime and even a competitive sport for people with asthma, but why is this the case? Several studies have found that swimming is less likely to cause asthma attacks when compared with land-based activities.

The Cochrane Review Journal looked at eight studies involving 262 participants between the ages of five and 18 years with well-controlled asthma. They took part in swimming training varying from 30 to 90 minutes two to three times a week over six to 12 weeks in seven of the studies, and in one study training lasted 30 minutes six times per week. Overall, the review found that for those taking part in swimming training compared to usual care or another physical activity, there were improvements in resting lung function tests, an increase in physical fitness and few reported adverse asthmatic events during the programs.

Why? There is no conclusive evidence, but some studies suggest that the high humidity of inspired air at water level reduces respiratory heat loss, while research also suggests that water immersion and the horizontal position of swimming is beneficial for asthmatics.

As always, when taking part in any physical activity, including swimming, parents should ensure that they have their child’s asthma medication while they’re at the pool for swimming lessons or training. But these studies show that asthma, as a manageable condition and in consultation with your family doctor, should not get in the way of your child learning to swim!

For your nearest swimming lessons, find your local Royal Life Saving Endorsed Swim School at the link below:

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