Don’t let cold temperatures in New Jersey keep your family stuck inside. It makes sense that parents are wary of taking little ones out. Why not just stay inside where it’s warm? But the benefits of swimming during the winter months will have you bundling up and heading out for some family fun in the pool.
1. Sharpen Safety Skills
Continuing to expose children to the water helps them practice the water safety skills they have learned. If you take a hiatus from the swimming pool for the winter, children gradually forget vital safety information and skills they have learned. When the excitement of warm weather returns, your child may not be able to recall what they learned over six months ago.
Retention of skills and safety information is the number one reason to keep children swimming in the winter. It’s also important for your child to continue to develop new skills. Each time your child enters the pool, there is a fresh and different experience waiting for him or her. If they build new skills during the winter months, children will be stronger swimmers when the warm weather returns.
2. Stay Active, Stay Healthy
When cold weather arrives it’s always just a little bit harder to brave the elements and leave the house to get into a bathing suit. In the winter, keeping active can really seem like a chore. Trying to stay healthy may lead to following old wives’ tales about colds.
Many parents are concerned that bringing their children to a pool will expose them to colds and viruses. The idea of having wet hair is also concerning. Having wet hair when leaving the pool will not make children sick because viruses don’t breed in hair (Kidspot). According to Dr. Sam Hay, “People may be surprised to know that swimming through winter can improve a child’s immune system by keeping them fit and healthy, reducing their risk of catching a cold. So, it’s time to stop fearing wet hair.”
3. Ward Off the Winter Blues
Swimming is considered a great anxiety reliever. Evidence suggests it is also effective in reducing the symptoms of depression in adults. This is not particularly surprising, as most forms of vigorous exercise have been shown to relieve both anxiety and depression.
Sports psychologist Aimee C. Kimball, Director of Mental Training at the Center for Sports Medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, notes that this may be due to the (physical) mechanisms in swimming and how they affect brain activity. While a swimming workout spurs the brain to pump out feel-good endorphins, less taxing floating exercises encourage our muscles to relax.
Some brain studies have shown that swimming can encourage “hippocampal neurogenesis”, which refers to growth of new brain cells in a part of the brain that atrophies under chronic stress. What better time to ward off depression and stress than during the season of the “winter blues”?
4. Flex Those Brain Muscles
As a physical exercise, swimming is hard to beat. It is a no-impact activity that enhances both muscle strength and cardiovascular performance. Often overlooked, however, are how the mechanics of swimming improve cognitive function. The nature of swimming, its rhythmic, bilateral strokes, help connect neural pathways in the brain.
Studies have shown that because swimming activates both hemispheres of the brain, it can improve cognitive function and make learning easier.
When children learn how to swim, especially at a young age, studies have shown they reach many developmental milestones earlier than their peers (Medical Daily).
Skills and confidence developed in the pool can carry over into academic performance, improved concentration, better coordination, and balance (Kidspot). There may be no better physical activity than swimming during the winter months, especially for school age children.
Getting kids out of the house and into a pool has been proven to benefit children’s health and development. By continuing to visit the pool during the winter, your child will maintain his or her confidence in themselves as a swimmer. And as research has shown, they may be a happier, healthier, more engaged student as well.