The health benefits of swimming are extremely well documented, both here on Everyoneactive.co.uk, elsewhere on the internet and in print. But what about swimming’s impact on everyone else, how does it affect society, physically, mentally, financially and philosophically? To find out, the sport’s governing body in England – Swim England – recently commissioned a report into the value of swimming.
The Financial Value of Swimming
The headline figure from the report was that swimming as an activity currently helps save the NHS and the health and social care system as a whole £357 million each year. This is because of the enormous health and wellbeing benefits of swimming and other aquatic activities that help make the country healthier and happier.
According to the report, it’s in dementia and strokes where the largest health savings are made, with swimming helping reduce the NHS’ bill by £140m and £100m each respectively.
Swimming also helps save £37.5m, £10.5m, £9.8m and £9.5m in the fields of diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and depression. Furthermore, the report reveals that around £51m is saved each year in reduced GP and physiotherapy visits thanks to swimming.
The Health Value of Swimming
This is all because of the huge role that swimming plays in preventing and treating all these appalling conditions. Prevention is always better – and cheaper – than the cure and being active in any way you can is a brilliant way of keeping you healthy.
The report indicates that, on average, people who swim regularly feel 6.4% healthier than those who do not – a figure that equates to feeling approximately 12 years younger!
Both us here at Everyone Active and the NHS itself recommends doing at least half an hour of medium intensity activity – of which swimming is an excellent example – five times a week in order to stay healthy. Indeed, the report suggests that regular exercise can reduce occurrences of diabetes and heart disease by between 20% and 40%.
How Swimming Improves Happiness
Of course, it’s well known that exercise – and swimming in particular – has a positive effect on people’s happiness and mental wellbeing and Swim England’s report confirms these findings.
Specifically, of the swimmers surveyed, 4.3% of adults are happier than those who do not swim, while those who swim outdoors are nearly twice as happy as those who do no swimming at all. Furthermore, 1.4 million adults say that swimming has significantly improved their depression and anxiety symptoms.
These feelings aren’t just confined to adults, either. According to the survey, 1.88 million children who swim regularly feel “higher feeling of life being worthwhile” than those who do not.
The Value of Swimming to Women and Girls
One of the most revealing statistics found in the report, however, was the domination of the sport by women and girls. Of the 4.7 million regular swimmers in England, 2.7 million of these are women, while it was found that swimming had a positive effect on the female population’s self-confidence, more than doubling it among women and girls.
How Swimming can Improve your Social Life
Finally, the report also found that swimming has a significant social impact on the population, with swimmers found to be 26.7% less likely to have no friends compared with a non-swimmer. This statistic is especially relevant to the older members of the population as research suggests that by 2025-26, the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is likely to by 49% to two million people.
The survey spoke to Stan, an Aqua-Fit class-goer from Tonbridge Wells who, at 93 uses the class to stay in touch with his friends: “There are three of us that go each week and we share lifts. The instructor works us hard and we go to the café for a coffee and a catch up afterwards. I really enjoy going.”
Swimming and getting active in the water is a fantastic way to help you get fit, improve your health and make yourself feel better – both physically and mentally. It’s not just for you, either. By looking after yourself, you’re less likely to cost the health and social care system money, which means there are more likely to be the resources available to help those who really need it, whose problems couldn’t be prevented.
So why not head down to your local Everyone Active pool and get swimming now?