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Major new study on health benefits of swimming released

Swim England

4 min read Partner content

A new study that evidences the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming has been released today by Swim England.


The report shows that the unique benefits of water make it the perfect place for people of all
ages to exercise, particularly those with long term health conditions.

  • Swimming is uniquely placed to support people throughout their entire life.
  • Swimming lowers the risk of early death by 28 per cent.
  • Swimming lessons help children to develop skills quicker.
  • Swimming and aquatic activity is a safe, cost effective and viable option for
  • healthcare professionals to signpost patients.
  • Call for more research on the impact of physical activity on mental health and long-term conditions.

The report also found evidence that swimmers live longer and regular swimming helps older
people stay mentally and physically fit. Importantly, it also showed that participation in
swimming lessons can help children to develop physical, cognitive and social skills quicker
than those who do not have lessons.

Swim England commissioned the independent report and will use the findings to raise
awareness within the health profession that swimming is a safe, cost effective and viable
option to signpost patients.

The national governing body for swimming in England is also calling on the wider health and
sports sector to come together and invest in further research on the impact of physical
activity on mental health and long term conditions.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England CEO, said: “It is evident from the report that swimming has
enormous potential to support the health and wellbeing of the nation. The unique properties
of water means that unlike other activities, no one is restricted from taking part.

“The report particularly highlights the benefits of swimming and aquatic activities for people
with mental health concerns or problems with their joints and muscles. This supports
findings from our Dementia Friendly Swimming project, but is an area where further research
across the health and sports sector is required.

“We will use the report findings to continue to develop our Health and Wellbeing Model and
our Aquatic Activity for Health qualification. We will also be working closely with the
swimming workforce and health practitioners to increase awareness of the benefits of
swimming and make it a viable option for signposting patients.”

Mike Farrar, Swim England Group Board Chairman and former CEO of the NHS
Confederation, said: “For too long, national guidelines have concentrated on the cardio
vascular benefits of exercise undertaken by healthy people, rather than on those who are
less fit or have long term health conditions.

“To fully understand the links between physical activity and health in the general population,
we would need to see more national resources invested into research. This report shows
that activities like swimming really do have the potential to be a game-changer in supporting
the health of this nation, especially at a time when cuts to services means less money for
long-term care.”

The reports remit was developed by the Swimming and Health Commission under the
Chairmanship of Professor Ian Cumming. The Health Education England Chief Executive,
said: “The Swimming and Health Commission was established by Swim England to explore
the evidence base for the health benefits of swimming. The resulting academic report is a
ground-breaking collection of papers that identify striking and robust evidence for the
significant improvements in health and quality of life that swimming produces.

“Swim England is the first sport governing body to support such an in-depth investigation of
its relationship with health and wellbeing and I would like to applaud them for their foresight
and for producing a piece of work that I am sure will become a reference document for many
years to come.”

The full Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Swimming report and Swim England’s response
can be accessed via:


Partner content
Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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