Doctors who recommend swimming can now know for sure that every public penny spent on the sport gives back more than its worth in health benefits.
The finding from health economists at Brunel University London forms a key part of a major report out today by Swim England.
The sport's value for money and the unique health benefits of being in the water that make swimmers live longer, make hitting the pool the ideal exercise for all ages, it says.
“We can now safely say to doctors and health workers it is potentially economically as well medically viable to encourage patients to swim,” said Brunel’s Dr Nana Anokye. “It costs just a hundred pounds to provide a year of full health through free swimming activities for young people.
“Cost-effectiveness estimates vary widely and more research into longer term health care costs and benefits is needed. But this is a clear message for the health sector that swimming is a potentially cost effective and viable option to signpost patients.”
With 2.5 million people swimming 30 minutes a week, “being able to demonstrate the contribution swimming makes to improve population health and wellbeing is important for public health policy making,” Dr Anokye added.
Interesting results in Brunel’s chapter include:
- Women are five per cent more likely to swim once a month than men
- Chinese people are nearly twice as likely to swim than Asians
- Parents and people with more money swim more than other groups
- People in London and the South swim the most in England
- People who swim are eight times more likely to meet guideline amounts of physical activity
Overall, the independent study also reveals regular dips keep older people physically and mentally fit and swimming lessons speed social, physical and cognitive development in children. It also highlights the benefits of swimming and water-based activities for people with mental health problems.
“When cuts mean less money for long-term care, activities like swimming can be a potential game-changer in supporting the health of the nation,” said Swim England’s Mike Farrar.
The Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Swimming report is commissioned by the Swimming and Health Commission on behalf of Swim England and is supported by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies
Dr Nana Anokye and colleagues, Glenn Stewart and Dr Subhash Pokhrel are based at Brunel University London’s Health Economics Research Group
Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
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