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Amanda Beard Swims Healthy

When Olympic champion and U.S. national title-holder Amanda Beard jumps into the pool as a professional athlete, her focus is on keeping herself healthy and at the top of her game. When she jumps into the pool as a mom, the most important thing is keeping her family healthy and safe.

Even if you're not swimming competitively, swimming and other kinds of water-based exercise have health benefits. As few as 2.5 hours of water‐based (or other forms of) physical activity per week can have substantial health benefits1-2.

Training 30 hours a week means training healthy

Training is a full-time job for an Olympic athlete, and Amanda is no exception. She's spent up to 30 hours a week in the pool training for three Olympics and a host of other competitions. Even when she's not in full training, Amanda still swims 8–10 hours a week.

So she knows a thing or two about pools. She knows swimmers can introduce germs into the water, which can lead to recreational water illnesses or pool closure—two things that can definitely interrupt training.

That's why it's important for all swimmers, even world-class swimmers, to follow the steps of healthy swimming, like not swimming when ill with diarrhea. This keeps Amanda and her training partners healthy and their training pools open.

Swimming isn't just for professional athletes—it's for everyone

For Amanda, swimming is a big part of her family's life even outside of the training pool.

"Swimming is one of the best ways to stay healthy," Amanda says. "It makes me feel fit and healthy, and no other workout can compare."

When she was pregnant with her son and then her daughter, Amanda swam regularly to stay healthy. Water‐based physical activity can protect the health of pregnant mothers by helping to regulate body temperature and minimize stress on joints during exercise, as well as help prevent or control diabetes brought on by pregnancy3.

Amanda's husband also uses swimming to keep physically active and control joint pain.
"Swimming is one of the only workouts he can do," Amanda says. "It's great because it provides a lot of relief to his body and joints."

For people with arthritis, water-based exercise improves use of affected joints without making symptoms worse4. People with rheumatoid arthritis have more health improvements after participating in water therapy than other activities5. Water-based exercise also improves the use of joints affected by osteoarthritis and decreases pain6.

There are even health benefits for Amanda's children. For example, children benefit socially from contact with other children at pools and other water play venues7.

Teaching kids the rules of the pool

Amanda shares her love of swimming with her children and other young swimmers. She wants them and others to stay healthy and safe in and around the pool. That means helping them follow the steps of healthy swimming, like keeping water out of their mouths. She also takes her children on frequent bathroom breaks, regularly checks their diapers and changes them away from the pool, and doesn't take her children swimming when they're ill with diarrhea.

Amanda also takes safety steps to prevent drowning.

"Kids learn to swim for so many different reasons, but most importantly for safety," Amanda says.

She started her son in swimming lessons at a very young age, and by the time he was 3 years old, he could swim the whole length of their pool—25 feet. She says her daughter will follow in her big brother's footsteps. Maybe there's another Olympian or two in the family!

 

More Information

References

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Chapter 2: Physical Activity Has Many Health Benefits.
  2. Chase NL, Sui X, Blair SN. Swimming and all-cause mortality risk compared with running, walking, and sedentary habits in men. Int J of Aquatic Res and Educ. 2008;2(3):213-23.
  3. Hartmann S. Bung P. Physical exercise during pregnancy—physiological considerations and recommendations. J Perinat Med. 1999;27(3):204-15.
  4. Westby MD. A health professional's guide to exercise prescription for people with arthritis: a review of aerobic fitness activities. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;45(6):501-11.
  5. Hall J, Skevington SM, Maddison PJ, Chapman K. A randomized and controlled trial of hydrotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care Res. 1996;9(3):206-15.
  6. Bartels EM, Lund H, Hagen KB, Dagfinrud H, Christensen R, Danneskiold-Samsøe B. Aquatic exercise for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;4:1-9.
  7. Oriel KN, Marchese VG, Shirk A, Wagner L, Young E, Miller L. The psychosocial benefits of an inclusive community-based aquatics program. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2012;24(4):361-7.
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