Swim to improve your respiratory health
Among the most common phrase we hear in these extraordinary COVID 19 times is respiratory health. Being a SARS virus, coronavirus affects the respiratory system causing mild symptoms in some, and a heavy burden to the lungs of others resulting in the need for assisted breathing (ventilators). At Swimaholics, we appreciate the efforts of all you good people, to wash your hands, stay home, practice social distancing and hygiene, and wear masks. Like all you, we also pray and hope that we get to the brighter days faster.
However, even after we defeat this monster, life may never be the same again, and it shouldn’t. As a swimming expert, I believe that practicing proper respiratory health is one of the greatest takeaways from this infection. And I will need to convince you how swimming can help you do that.
Swimming is a water sport and since we did not evolve to possess gills, the best we can do is practice holding our breath under water, breathe out in water, and come up for air. In the lungs, air is delivered to small air sacs (alveoli) that expand to contain the air. The walls of the alveoli are very narrow and surrounded by capillaries carrying blood. At this point, oxygen from the inhaled air diffuses into the blood, while carbon dioxide is carried into the alveoli and removed when exhaling. So how does swimming improve your respiratory health you ask?
As you swim, the need to breathe is high, whether urgent or controlled. This means that the oxygen demand is very high, but only a single breath is taken in at a time. As you progress, the body learns to take up as much oxygen from the one breath, leading to more efficiency at your alveoli. Oxygen consumption in the body is also more efficient where the little oxygen taken in can be used for the next few seconds until when you breathe again. With time, you will need to breathe less, until you get to peak respiratory ability.
You might ask how this peak respiratory ability is important at a time like this. The answer is that while it may not be much, it can be the difference between severe respiratory failure and a mild infection. If two individuals, one with peak ability and the other who does no exercise have a similar viral load in their lungs, the lungs of the one at peak ability are used to working with little oxygen. So even with the symptoms, the body will manage to us the little available oxygen to carry out basic functions. The other one might not be so lucky and may require more oxygen to sustain normal body functions, hence, ventilation.
If I were to challenge you to do one thing after this is over is to take up swimming regularly. If that is not possible, adopt a lifestyle that allows you to perform physical exercise that strain your lungs. Even if we have no other pandemics coming, you will definitely appreciate feeling more healthy as you go on with daily life.