Swimming is great for your health and will help you to build muscle, tone yourself up, burn fat and generally improve your physique and your cardiovascular fitness. However all of this is only in the long term, and in the short term swimming pools can actually be a relatively dangerous and unhealthy place and there are a range of problems you can get from swimming in them. Here we will look at a few specific risks involved with public swimming pools and share some advice on how to avoid the problems.
Chlorine is added to swimming pools in order to try and improve health by killing off bacteria. However unfortunately some studies have suggested that some of the by-products of chlorine, created when it comes into contact with dust, sweat or skin, can have negative effects. The main by-product of concern is ‘chloroform’ which is a type of ‘trihalomethanes’ (and which can have powerful sedative effects), and this may increase the chances of developing cancer, and which may be harmful for the unborn children of pregnant women.
However that said, no direct link has been found between swimming and pregnancy problems – and swimming pools have been used in prenatal classes for a long time as a way to exercise without placing stress on the joints. Other health experts say that the health benefits of swimming outweigh any potential risks, and measures in light of the studies have been taken in order to reduce the levels of chlorine in swimming pools subsequently.
What can you do? Well you can first of all make sure to shower after swimming as this will help you to wash any chloroform from your skin to reduce the amount you absorb, and you also should be careful to avoid swallowing gulps of water when swimming.
A serious health hazard in public swimming pools is slipping up on the sides. This is because the surfaces are usually wet tiles and these can be very slippery, and because they are often very solid too meaning they can do a lot of damage if you do fall over.
The obvious solution here is to avoid running at all times, and to look where you are walking. You should also be vigilant and walk on the plastic mats where available.
Other accidents can also occur of course – for instance it’s not uncommon to swim into other swimmers, or into walls, and it’s also possible to hurt yourself jumping in. Always look at the signs then and abide by the rules, and try to avoid crowded areas or swimming too fast without looking where you are going.
Of course drowning is also a very real possibility in a swimming pool if you are not a strong swimmer. To be on the safe side, always swim with friends if you are not a pro, use arm bands, and try to gravitate toward the lifeguard who will be able to jump in and help you if necessary.
Another important thing to remember is to avoid swimming next to filters and drains if you have long hair as your hair can otherwise get caught causing you to become trapped at the bottom of the pool. If you have long hair in fact, then it can be a good idea to keep it tied up or in a swimming hat.
Verrucas are warts that exist on the feet and that are pressed into the skin by the weight of the person walking on them. They are caused by a viral infection and spread via direct contact with the skin which of course means they are very prone to spreading in swimming pools. Furthermore, verrucas like to thrive in public swimming pools because they enjoy moist damp areas.
Thus if you are serious about avoiding verrucas then you can avoid them by wearing verruca socks which will provide you with a protective layer between your skin and the surface of the pool. You can also wear flippers or boat shoes.
For most of us this is an extreme level to go to, and you will find that you can for the most part avoid verrucas by simply avoiding the wettest areas in the swimming pool and walking where it’s dry. Likewise you can avoid verrucas by walking on the mats again.
While the chlorine is designed to kill off bacteria, some can still of course make it through the net and this can pose a health risk. You’ll find that people are likely to sweat, and to even urinate in the pools and this can cause an infection or other health problems. To avoid getting ill from bacteria in the pool you should again be careful to avoid swallowing the water and you should also again make sure to wash yourself thoroughly (you can also help them in the pool by washing yourself in the showers (normally provided) before getting in the pool.
Note: Something that will help you to avoid getting ill from bacteria and also prevent a lot of other conditions – verrucas and accidents for instance; is to simply go when the pool is going to be emptier so try getting up early or going in work hours if you are able to. Swimming outside can also be a good decision if it’s warm enough and you have the facilities near you.
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