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Sports Med. 2009;39(5):377-87. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200939050-00004.

Swimming exercise: impact of aquatic exercise on cardiovascular health.

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Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Swimming is an exercise modality that is highly suitable for health promotion and disease prevention, and is one of the most popular, most practiced and most recommended forms of physical activity. Yet little information is available concerning the influence of regular swimming on coronary heart disease (CHD). Exercise recommendations involving swimming have been generated primarily from unjustified extrapolation of the data from other modes of exercise (e.g. walking and cycling). Available evidence indicates that, similarly to other physically active adults, the CHD risk profile is more favourable in swimmers than in sedentary counterparts and that swim training results in the lowering of some CHD risk factors. However, the beneficial impact of regular swimming may be smaller than land-based exercises. In some cases, regular swimming does not appear to confer beneficial effects on some CHD risk factors. Moreover, swimming has not been associated with the reduced risks of developing CHD. Thus, extrapolation of research findings using land-based exercises into swimming cannot be justified, based on the available research. Clearly, more research is required to properly assess the effects of regular swimming on CHD risks in humans.

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