Mental Health, Physical Education, Swimming

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Is Swimming Better Exercise Than Running?

Published: 2021-08-07
Is Swimming Better Exercise Than Running?
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If you want to incite a fun sports discussion go to NYC’s legendary Rucker Park courts and ask if LeBron could hold his own with Michael or Kobe.

Or go to your favorite Hot Stove League and say you insist Pete Rose gets into baseball’s hall of fame.

Those are easy, but this twister is for fitness fiends

That’s what this SportsEdTV’s Editors’ Choice blog is about. 

We’ve found interesting studies saying more benefits accrue to swimmers than other dry exercises.

One conducted by New Zealand researchers at the University of Otego and published in Physiological Reports  concludes:

“…the acute benefits of swimming for cognitive performance shown here imply that regular swimming may confer chronic cognitive health benefits. This is important since swimming is an accessible form of exercise and has the potential to be beneficial for a wide range of people.”

Another study takes a deeper dive by setting up a dry vs wet comparison using children as participants and testing their cognitive abilities to recognize new vocabulary words after comparative activities. 

First, at rest, the children did coloring.  Then came aerobic swimming which was followed by anaerobic Cross-Fit style exercise. 

The researchers, Madison Pruitt and Giovanna Morini at the University of Delaware published their study in the Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research Journal.

They found that children’s accuracy was much higher for words learned following swimming compared with coloring and CrossFit, which resulted in the same level of recall. This shows a clear cognitive benefit from swimming versus anaerobic exercise, their report says.

The Pruit-Morini study adds they did not compare with other aerobic exercises, suggesting there are more crumbs to follow on the research trail to end any swimming vs running debate.

Our alert came from a report by Seena Mathew, Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor who asked:   But what’s special about swimming?

She wrote “researchers don’t yet know what swimming’s secret sauce might be. But they’re getting closer to understanding it,” adding, “regular swimming has been shown to improve memory, cognitive function, immune response, and mood. Swimming may also help repair damage from stress and forge new neural connections in the brain.”

While the research jury might still be out on the dry vs wet exercise benefits choice we wonder whether the likes of Weismuller, Ladecky, Phelps, Ederly, and Spitz have been holding out on us.