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Fitness That Fits You

Lap Swimming

Swimming is a wonderful zero-impact sport for people with arthritis. It works all your muscle groups and builds cardiovascular endurance. It also stretches and lengthens your body, improving your posture. Water can have a gentle, soothing effect on the body. Swimming laps can be very meditative; there is no pounding music, no clanging weights – it's just you and the water. The support of the water and the lack of joint impact make swimming a good choice for people who are unable to undertake high-impact activities, such as running.


Specific modifications will depend on your joints affected, but you may consider the following.

  • Although warm-water exercise is often more comfortable for those with arthritis, it is not ideal for lap swimming. A pool that is too hot will increase your blood pressure more rapidly than if you are in a cooler pool.
  • Each stroke uses different joints in different ways. You will have to choose which is most comfortable for your affected joints.
  • Swim equipment, such as kickboards and pull buoys, can help you modify your strokes.


  • Since swimming is a non-weight-bearing exercise, you will need to add a weight-bearing exercise to your overall fitness routine to strengthen your bones.
  • Swimming lessons are helpful if you need to learn correct technique, form and body positioning to lessen joint strain.


  • Start slowly and increase the time, distance, intensity and speed at which you swim as you are able.

This is general lap swimming information. Get personalized results, with specific modifications and tips customized to your problem joints and level of fitness.