Male swimmers live longer

Published: Apr 20, 2009
SPLASH magazine

A new study shows that swimming increases men’s longevity 50 per cent more effectively than running, walking or being sedentary.

The University of South Carolina study led by Dr Steven Blair evaluated comprehensive physical exams and behavioural surveys from thousands of people who were enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (ACLS) over the past 32 years.

The results were presented at the 2008 World Aquatic Health Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and have been published in the International Journal of Aquatic Education and Research. “Swimmers had the lowest death rate,” says Blair. He adds that the study takes into account age, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake, hypertension, other medical factors and family history.

“This is the first report that examined mortality rates among swimmers in comparison with other types of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle. We conclude that men who swim for exercise have better survival rates than their sedentary peers.”

The ACLS includes extensive medical and physical activity data on more than 40,000 men, age 20-90 years. “These lower rates in swimmers compared with walkers and sedentary men might well be expected,” says Blair. “But it is surprising that we also observed lower mortality in swimmers than in runners. Therefore, swimming appears to be a healthful alternative to other types of physical activity.”

Dr Blair added that while this study only looked at men, there was no compelling reason to assume that the benefits of swimming would be different for women.