Looking to improve your lung health?

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Aquatic activity, such as swimming and aquatic exercise, in water can improve your lung health.

Respiratory conditions affect 1 in 5 Canadians of all ages and genders, and includes asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung and cystic fibrosis, and more.

In the 100 Mile House LHA, 106 people are newly diagnosed with COPD, and 35 people are newly diagnosed with asthma in one year. 

Benefits of Aquatic Exercise on Respiratory Conditioning.

Water-based exercise can have significant implications for pulmonary (lung) exercise and rehabilitation. Evidence suggests that aquatic exercise can influence respiratory muscle strength and pulmonary function in children and adults, and improved lung function and cardiorespiratory fitness in certain lung disease. According to a study by Lazovic- Popovic et al. (2006), aquatic exercise improves lung function and efficiency.

Swimming allows for improved lung capacity; immersion in water to at least the level of the thorax causes direct compression of the chest wall by hydrostatic pressure, and directly impacts a 6-9% reduction in vital capacity and an increase in work of breathing, allowing an opportunity for respiratory training. Why is lung capacity important? During physical activity, our lungs send oxygen to our muscles. When our lungs have a larger oxygen capacity, more oxygen is delivered to our muscles and body. This improves muscle function, decreases muscle cramping, allows for easier breathing in higher altitudes, improves metabolic and digestive functions and reduces feeling of fatigue, risk of heart attack or stroke.

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

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Aquatic exercise was significantly more effective than land-based exercise training in increasing exercise capacity and improving aspects of quality of life in people with COPD and physical co-morbidities (McNamara et al., 2013).


Swimming is commonly recommended as a form of physical activity for children with asthma as an aquatic environment offers humidity, warmth, low pollen exposure and hydrostatic pressure against the chest wall, which reduces the work of breathing with expiration. By offering an environment that is ideal for children with asthma, it allows them to break the cycle of deconditioning and poor cardiorespiratory fitness, promotes normal physical/ psychological development, enhancing lung volumes and breathing technique.

Whether you are looking to improve your lung function during exercise, or to prevent, manage or improve symptoms of a lung condition, aquatic environments have unique properties that can benefit lung function when exercising.


Lazovic-Popovic, B., Zlatkovic-Svenda, M., Durmic, T., Djelic, M., DjordjecivSaranovic, S., and Zugic, V. (2006). Superior lung capacity in swimmers: some questions, more answers! Revista PortuguesadePneumologia(EnglishEdition). 22(2):151-156.

McNamara, R., McKeough, Z., McKenzie, D. and Alison, J. (2013). Water-based exercise in COPD with physical comorbidities: a randomized control trial. European Respiratory Journal. 41(6): 1284-1291.

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