Can Swimming Cure My Child’s Asthma?
Swimming is one of the best ways to control the symptoms of asthma and reduce the reliance on medication. Even though asthma can be caused by exercising, famous athletes with asthma such as Paula Radcliffe, Mark Spitz, and Amy Van Dyken have also overcame their conditions.
Speaking of Amy Van Dyken, she was an American swimmer who won 4 Gold medals during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Her gold medals were won in 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4 x 100m freestyle and 4 x 100m medley events. Amy’s asthma has a limited lung capacity of 65%!
How does swimming help with asthma?
Children with asthma should be allowed to swim as it can improve lung capacity. Air near the surface of the water is usually warmer and more moist than normal air, therefore less likely to agitate the symptoms of asthma. When a child is able to pick up good breathing techniques, swimming can increase the volume of the lungs. Swimming is also an ideal low impact exercise that promotes general fitness and fun for children!
A scientific study published by Wiley-Blackwell in Respirology revealed that swimming helps reduce the symptoms of asthma in children. Improvements in symptoms have been observed in by asthmatic children who underwent a 6-week swimming programme, which included a reduction in asthma severity, mouth-breathing, snoring and chest deformity. Self-confidence was also boosted!
The lead author at Taipei Medical Univerity, Wang Jeng-Shing, reported that the children continued to enjoy the improvements in their health even a year after the swimming program.
“Unlike other sports, swimming is unlikely to provoke asthma attacks… swimming promotes normal physical and psychological development, such as increasing lung volume, developing good breathing techniques and improving general fitness.”
Some parents may be concerned about chlorine in the water. This is generally safe as long as the child does not spend long hours in the pool. Some children may find that their asthma symptoms are triggered in the pool, thus parents should practice discretion. If the child feels uncomfortable with the strong smell of chlorine, it is advisable not to step into the pool until the child feels better.
Seek Professional Advice
Parents should always get a green light from the child’s doctor before arranging for swimming lessons, especially if the symptoms of asthma are more pronounced during and after exercising. A doctor may consider prescribing medication to prevent the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma from surfacing. Heeding the doctor’s advice is absolutely necessary!
If the doctor gives the go ahead to let your child learn how to swim, you can make it enjoyable by letting him learn together with his friends! Click here to find out more about KiddySwim’s swimming programme.