A refreshing swim can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. These are vascular health bonuses for people who are at risk for stroke, the leading cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
In 2010, 137,000 Americans died of stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Swimming is a vascular health bonanza,” said David H. Stone, MD, and a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery. “Low-impact swimming provides a total cardiovascular workout. Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscle, resulting in less effort and a decrease in blood pressure.”
One in every three Americans over 20 years old — 74 million Americans — has high blood pressure according to 2010 statistics from the CDC. One in every six American adults has high cholesterol (more than 250 mg/d L). More American women than men have high cholesterol.
To reduce high cholesterol levels, exercise and diet are important factors. The American Council on Exercise suggests that adults burn 2000 calories a week from exercise.
The lack of regular physical activity results in 250,000 deaths annually, according to a 2003 report in the journal Circulation.
As long as the exercise regimen continues, the health benefits remain.
After 12 to 14 weeks of a three- to five-days-a-week exercise regimen of 20 to 60 minutes at an intensity of 60 to 90 percent heart rate, bad (LDL) cholesterol can decrease by up to 20 percent according to Livestrong.com. Another bonus: aerobic exercise can increase good (HDL) cholesterol.
In a 2010 University of Western Australia study, 100 women swimmers, ages 50 to 70, lowered their bad cholesterol and lost more inches in the waist and hips than walkers. Likewise, swimming is easy on the joints and doesn’t result in overheating.
There are non-invasive screening tests that can detect vascular disease. Medication can treat vascular disease. For free print and electronic vascular health information, visit VascularWeb.org.