Swimming offers far more than escape from heat

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

School is out, we've just celebrated Memorial Day and, weather permitting, another summertime milestone will arrive Wednesday with the opening of the McCook Municipal Swimming Pool.

The advent of air conditioning has somewhat lessened the public pool's role as a source of summertime heat relief, though certainly not completely, but there are plenty of other reasons to head for the pool this summer.

We can't think of a better family activity that a trip to the pool, nor a better use of time for school kids suddenly free of the day-t0-day grind of the classroom.

Swim lessons are an important rite of passage as well as safety measure for children -- and adults who have somehow missed out.

In fact, adults in need of exercise should take a serious look at swimming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preention, swimming is the second most popular sports activity in the United States and a great way to get regular aerobic physical activity.

Just 21⁄2 hours per week of aerobic physical activity such as swimming can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses, leading to improved health for people with diabetes and heart disease. Swimmers have about half the risk of death compared with inactive people, according to the CDC, and people report enjoying water-based exercise more than exercising on land.

They can also exercise longer in water than on land without increased effort or joint or muscle pain.

For people with arthritis, it improves use of affected joints without worsening symptoms, and, for those with rheumatoid arthritis, hydrotherapy improves health more than other activities. Water-based exercise also improves the use of affected joints and decreases pain from osteoarthritis.

The CDC also says water-based exercise improves mental health, boosting the mood in both men and women, decreasing anxiety and depression in people with fibromyalgia. Water-based exercise can improve the health of mothers and their unborn children, and parents of children with developmental disabilities find that recreational activities such as swimming improve family connections.

Convinced yet?

The city pool will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, with free swimming on opening day only.

Regular hours are 1 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Daily admission is $1 for children 12 and under, $2.50 for 13 and over. Season passes are $25 for children 12 and under and $35 for 13 and over. Family season passes are $60.

Of course, swimming doesn't have to be a seasonal activity, thanks to the McCook YMCA. More information on summertime hours is available by contacting the Y.

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