Swimming is one of the most popular sports activities in the United States. Just 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, including water-based activity, has health benefits, no matter our age. As with any form of physical activity, we maximize the health benefits of swimming when we each do our part to minimize the chance of illness and injury.
Swim Healthy, Stay Healthy!
Swimming is fun and a great way to stay healthy and spend time with family and friends. However, it’s important not to swim or let your kids swim if they have diarrhea. Just one diarrheal incident in the water can release millions of diarrhea-causing germs like Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus, and E. coli O157:H7. This can make other swimmers sick if they swallow a mouthful of contaminated water.
Most germs are killed within minutes by common pool disinfectants like chlorine or bromine, but Crypto is a germ that can survive in properly chlorinated water for more than 7 days. This is why Crypto is the leading cause of outbreaks linked to swimming in the United States.
Tips for Healthy Swimming
Practicing healthy swimming is important to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy. Whether in the pool, the hot tub/spa, or water playground we can all help protect ourselves and our loved ones from germs by following these simple but effective steps:
- Don’t swim or let children swim when sick with diarrhea.
- Don’t swallow the water.
- Take kids on bathroom breaks every hour.
- Check diapers, and change them in a bathroom or diaper-changing area—not poolside—to keep germs away from the pool.
- Shower before you get in the water. Rinsing off in the shower for just 1 minute helps get rid of any germs that might be on your body.
Staying safe in and around the water is important, too. Don’t forget sun safety and drowning prevention. Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury death among children 1–14 years old. In fact, drowning kills more young children 1–4 years old than anything else except birth defects.
Keep kids out of the water if sick with diarrhea! Download more healthy and safe swimming posters.
Of drowning victims who survive and are treated in emergency rooms, more than half are hospitalized or transferred for further care. They often experience brain damage, which can cause memory problems, learning disabilities, or permanent loss of basic functioning (or permanent vegetative state). Swimmers can prevent fatal and non-fatal drowning by learning swimming skills, by wearing life vests, and by swimming under the close supervision of parents, caregivers, or lifeguards who know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Remember: Think Healthy. Swim Healthy. Be Healthy! This summer and year round, let’s follow CDC’s Steps of Healthy Swimming to protect ourselves and our loved ones from illness and injury when swimming or playing in the water.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention - https://www.cdc.gov/features/healthyswimming/index.html
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases - https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/