Health benefits of owning a pool or spa

Swimming pools and spas are wonderful additions to the lifestyle of every home. Exercise - and the social benefits provided by a pool or spa - is immeasurable. With the current global obesity epidemic, the health and fitness benefits of pool and spa ownership are undeniable. 

Swimming isn't just a fun way to cool off during the summer. It is one of the few sports or activities that doesn't cost a lot of money, or require any equipment. Swimming holds no age or ability barrier! There are health benefits from swimming pools and spas to be gained from people of all ages. As the population ages, they are looking for exercises to stay active without putting extra strain on their joints. Many people turn to water therapy and aqua exercise as a way to get fit, change bad habits and feel better.

Health benefits of swimming

  • Increases Flexibility. Pool water's buoyancy counteracts the force of gravity, making swimming an ideal low-impact form of exercise that puts very little stress on those bones and joints. If it's a heated pool (even better!), muscles will become relaxed, which increases flexibility and enables you to engage in important stretching exercises. If you engage in intense lactic-acid-building endurance workouts—like running, cycling or weights—swimming helps flush out toxins and impurities, preventing muscle tightness and soreness the next day.
  • Burns Calories. Swimming is one of the easiest and best ways to burn unwanted calories: an hour of swimming burns about 500 calories. Swimming increases your metabolism, continuing the "burn" for a while even when you've exited the pool.
  • Improves Co-ordination. Swimming works your body's motor coordination. Over two thirds of the body musculature is engaged when you swim. The upper and lower body, trunk, head, arms and legs are forced to work together to make a balanced effort.
  • Improves Posture. Mom always told you to stop slouching. It's still not too late. Swimming strengthens joints and improves posture by improving the position of the spinal column. This makes it an excellent exercise for people with all kinds of back problems and issues.
  • Socialization. If you own a pool, then you know what a magnet it can be in the summer time. Pools are all about socialization—they are a culture unto themselves.
  • Improves Mental Health. It's a proven fact that physical activity improves mood in children and adults. For people with conditions like fibromyalgia, swimming can help decrease stress and anxiety, while relaxing, strengthening and toning muscles. Water-based exercise improves mental health. For people with fibromyalgia, it can decrease anxiety and exercise therapy in warm water can decrease depression and improve mood. Read more...

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Above: The De Hoop Nature Reserve swimming pool. Source: Overberg Pool Clinic.

What is a pool or spa?

A pool or spa is a structure designed to hold water to enable swimming or other leisure activities. Pools can be built into the ground (in-ground pools) or built above ground (as a freestanding construction or as part of a building or other larger structure), and are also a common feature aboard ocean-liners and cruise ships. In-ground pools are most commonly constructed from materials such as concrete, natural stone, metal, plastic or fiberglass, and can be of a custom size and shape or built to a standardised size, the largest of which is the Olympic-size swimming pool.

Many health clubs, fitness centers and private clubs, such as the YMCA, have pools used mostly for exercise or recreation. Many towns and cities provide public pools. Many hotels have pools available for their guests to use at their leisure.

Educational facilities such as universities typically have pools for physical education classes, recreational activities, leisure or competitive athletics such as swimming teams. Hot tubs and spas are pools filled with hot water, used for relaxation or hydrotherapy, and are common in homes, hotels, and health clubs. Special swimming pools are also used for diving, specialized water sports, physical therapy as well as for the training of lifeguards and astronauts. Swimming pools may be heated or unheated.

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Take a moment to relax with the Japanese Macaques (Snow Monkeys) as they soak in natural hot springs

YouTube: Meditative Snow Monkeys Hang Out in Hot Springs | National Geographic Short Film Showcase

Enjoy this National Geographic documentary about the Japanese Macaques (Snow Monkeys) 

YouTube: Snow Monkeys - National Geographic Documentary - narrated by Liam Neeson

Health Benefits of soaking in a hot spring

Soaking in a hot spring need not be solely reserved for a relaxing vacation or a weekend getaway. These mineral-rich baths offer a slew of natural health benefits you may not know about. The healing powers of hot springs have been used for thousands of years and are widely accepted in Europe and Japan as natural treatment options for various common ailments. The therapeutic use of water, or balneotherapy, could be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to relieving pain, stress, skin woes and more.

Before You Soak. Always check with your doctor before taking a soak in a hot spring, especially if you're pregnant, elderly, have cardiovascular problems or another serious illness, to be sure the practice is safe for you.

  • Boosts Blood Circulation. The water found in natural hot springs contains a variety of different minerals, including calcium and sodium bicarbonate. When you bathe in a hot spring, your skin soaks in these minerals and your hydrostatic pressure rises. As this process continues, circulation and oxygen flow increases -- much like when you exercise. An oxygenated circulatory system is beneficial in keeping not only your heart, but your body's other vital organs and tissues, healthy and strong.
  • Reduces Stress, Promotes Sleep. Stress relief doesn’t have to come in the form of a pill. Excess stress can be remedied naturally by immersing your body in a hot-spring water bath. The minerals in the water can contribute to the psychological healing process, while heat relaxes tense muscles. Improved sleep can be an added benefit; when you soak in warm water, your body temperature rises, then quickly cools down when your bath is complete. This body-cooling process can help you relax and fall into a deeper sleep.
  • Relieves Pain, Naturally. If you suffer from chronic muscle pain, arthritis or even fibromyalgia, soaking in a pool of hot-spring water can effectively improve pain. An Israeli study found in the journal "Rheumatology International," shows evidence that hot mineral baths may aid in pain relief and fibromyalgia fatigue. Additionally, when your body is submerged in hot-spring water, the buoyancy encourages freer movement by naturally supporting your joints.
  • Solves Skin Problems. When applied directly to the skin, mineral-rich hot-spring water can help to naturally relieve certain skin conditions. The high silica content found in hot springs can smooth and soften dry, rough skin. Similarly, the medicinal properties of the water's sulfur content can relieve uncomfortable eczema and psoriasis symptoms. Article source: