Heart Smart & Aquatics Go Hand in Hand

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Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among Canadian adults, and includes heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and heart disease. According to the Heart Research Institute:

  • Every 7 minutes in Canada, someone dies from heart disease or stroke
  • 29% of all deaths in Canada are from heart disease
  • Aboriginal people are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to develop heart disease

In the 100 Mile House Local Health Area (LHA), 196 individuals are newly diagnosed with high blood pressure, and 56 people are newly diagnosed with heart failure in one year (PHSA, 2017). High blood pressure contributes to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, and can be modified by several lifestyle factors, including exercise.

Benefits of Aquatic Exercise on Cardiovascular Conditioning.

Swimming and aquatic exercise are viable methods for improving cardiovascular fitness, and is particularly attractive to individuals who are less tolerant to land based exercise. Swimming has a valuable role in risk factor modification, especially for high blood pressure, as it is associated with a reduction in blood pressure and improvements in vascular function. Aquatic fitness increases vascular dilation and decreases arterial stiffness, resulting in improved circulation and blood pressure (Nualnim et al., 2012; Alkatan et al., 2016). It also reduces resting heart rate and lowers work on cardiac muscles, which can help prevent certain types of heart disease.

Coronary Artery Disease

Aquatic exercise and swimming is increasingly used as a successful form of rehabilitation in both coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure, with swimming being associated to delayed sensation of angina compared to land-based training (SHC, 2017).

Swimming and aquatic exercise is safe in individuals with cardiorespiratory disease when symptoms are stable, and exercise prescription is directed by a qualified practitioner.


Heart Research Institute. http://www.hricanada.org/about-heart-disease/facts-about-heart-disease

PHSA (2017): http://communityhealth.phsa.ca/HealthProfiles/HealthReport/100%20Mile%20House

Swimming and Health Commission (2017). The health and wellbeing benefits of swimming. Retrieved from: https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/new-report-shows-health- benefits- swimming/?fbclid=IwAR3mEPcdrGmWX2oNF_0cxVHjBX3wMvUgjWMP64bJRqKQ8Pd5wU49 aObx9fs

Nualnim, N., Parkhurst, K., Dhindsa, M., Tarumi, T., Vavrek, J. and Tanaka, H. (2012) Effects of swimming training on blood pressure and vascular function in adults >50 years of age. American Journal of Cardiology. 109 (7): 1005-1010.

Alkatan, M., Machin, D., Baker, J., Akkari, A., Park, W. and Tanaka, H. (2016). Effects of swimming and cycling exercise intervention on vascular function in patients with osteoarthritis. The American Journal of Cardiology. January 1, 2016. 117(1): 141-145.