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Swimming: An Activity More Blacks Should Learn for its Health Benefits

Black people are gaining increasing visibility in competitive swimming and that bodes well for introducing more young African Americans to an activity that can have tremendous long-term health benefits.

Swimming has always been a great way to reduce stress, but it can actually ease more than your mind. Taking a dip regularly can lower your blood pressure, according to a study published in the April edition of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Researchers studied 43 sedentary older adults with elevated blood pressure and found that a three-month program of slow to moderate swimming lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average of nine points. What’s more, the water workouts — three or four days a week of swimming laps for 15 to 45 minutes — led to a significant improvement in their vascular function, a first-of-its-kind finding.

“Their carotid arteries became more elastic and responsive to changes in blood flow, which is beneficial because when they’re stiff, the heart will have a harder time pumping blood,” says Hirofumi Tanaka, one of the authors of the study and the director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin.

In addition to decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, swimming can burn roughly the same amount of calories as jogging, with less stress on your joints. It also provides a cooling, energizing and, thanks to water’s buoyancy, uplifting experience.

The United States has an estimated 8.6 million public and residential pools, making the activity more accessible than ever. To find a public one for your workouts, check with a local community center or fitness club. But before stepping in, follow these precautions:

See a health professional before beginning any new exercise regimen. With swimming, that’s especially critical if you have heart or lung disease, since water pressure can increase the stress on your heart and lungs.

Source: Washington Post



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