The power of research
Industry builders and retailers must also take time to learn about new research being disseminated through sources such as the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). The NSPF, whose primary mission is to raise awareness about aquatic health, has committed more than $1.5 million US to study the benefits of water exercise and hot-water immersion. Recently, with a $1-million US grant, the NSPF helped fund the National Aquatic Sports Medicine Institute (NASMI) at Washington State University. The group also hosts the World Aquatic Health Conference (WAHC), which reports on research results demonstrating the value of swimming, aquatic exercise and hot-water immersion on the body.
Dr. Bruce Becker, director of NASMI, has studied the health impact of hot water immersion on the autonomic nervous system. Warm water immersion has been found to calm the central nervous system, reduce stress on the heart and increase circulation. At the 2009 WAHC Conference, Dennis Dolny, PhD, Utah State University, presented results on how immersion and aquatic exercise help arthritis suffers, illustrating the effects of walking on land versus a water treadmill and indicating water walking lessened pain and increased energy. Currently, “Guy” Hornsby, Jr. PhD, CDE, of West Virginia University is researching the affects of water exercise with patients suffering from type-2 diabetes.
For the past 32 years, the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (ACLS) has also been evaluating the health benefits of swimming. A study by Dr. Steven Blair, P.E.D., of the University of North Carolina concluded regular swimming can be an important contributor to health.
“This is the first report that examined mortality rates among swimmers in comparison with other types of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle,” said Blair, whose study took into account age, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, alcohol intake, hypertension, family history and other medical factors. “We conclude men who swim for exercise have better survival rates than their sedentary peers.”
This landmark study was covered by the U.S. mainstream media last summer, including AARP Magazine, which has a circulation of more 35 million readers. Retailers and builders on both sides of the border should have copies of articles like these in their stores and sales books to show customers and prospects.
A balanced approach
As pool and spa professionals, the goal is always to get more people in the water. Explaining the benefits of swimming and other aquatic activities can only further this cause. Ultimately, the pool and spa industry must strike a balance, promoting both the fun of its products and the health benefits that come along with them. In an economic climate where consumers look for reasons to justify big-ticket purchases and want more reasons to feel good about the value of investing in a pool or hot tub, a balanced approach is best. By providing the right products and promotions, backed by real-world research, retailers and builders can expand their customer base and boost the bottom line.
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Connie Gibson Centrella, MBA, is professor and program director for the online Aquatic Engineering Program at Keiser University eCampus. She is an industry veteran with more than 40 years experience and is a former pool builder with extensive knowledge in pool construction, equipment installation and manufacturing.
For 30 years, Laurie Batter has assisted members of the swimming pool, hot tub and backyard industries with public relations and consulting services through her full-service marketing firm, BatterUp! Productions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.