In early December 2016, my travels took me to the town of Windsor, Canada to lecture at the FINA World Aquatics Championships Sports Medicine Congress. FINA is the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming. This was a fun meeting that brought together physicians, scientists and coaches from around the world to talk about issues related to swimming and other aquatic sports. There was also a big focus on the health benefits of swimming and how to encourage people to start swimming at a young age and continue it for life.
I spoke to this group about the importance of exercise to health and why we need to encourage everyone to be more active. Of course I have written many times in this blog about the numerous health benefits of exercise and why we need to promote exercise like it is a medication. So I was excited by the fact that a global organization like FINA would make the effort to promote physical activity. Of course they are keenly interested in promoting “swimming as medicine” for life as a way to stay healthy.
While the focus of this blog is on getting everybody to walk, swimming is also a great exercise that can help a person get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. In fact, I often recommend swimming to my patients who have trouble walking due to arthritis pains in their hips, knees or ankles. By swimming, they can get a great workout without the wear and tear on already damaged joints that comes with weight bearing exercise. I also find that there is something about being in the water and swimming that helps to relieve stress and make you relax more than almost any other type of exercise can. And of course, swimming is the only exercise that can save your life should you happen to fall into water that is over your head and for that reason everyone should know how to swim and be taught at a young age.
Even though the weather was chilly during my visit, I made sure to get out for a walk every day while in Windsor. It is an interesting city located just across the river from Detroit, Michigan. It has a fascinating history dating back to prohibition and the founding of the Hiram Walker Whiskey distillery, whose products were often smuggled across the river into the US by none other than Al Capone. Windsor is also known as the Las Vegas of Canada, due to the fact that gambling is legal here. While I saw little resemblance to the real Vegas, I did stay at Caesar’s Palace in Windsor, which was the host site for the FINA meeting.
Thank you as always for reading my blog and I really hope it motivates you to get out every day and go for a walk!
Keep walking my friends!