As the weather cools down and the hand sanitizer comes out, every wary parent is on high alert around sniffles and sneezes. Concidentally, it’s the time of year when many an Aqua-Tots front desk team member hears statements like, “I thought swimming during the fall or winter would make my little one sick.”
Have no fear! We’re here to clear up this misconception, starting with a flashback to science class and how the immune system works. According to WebMD:
“Simply put, the immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against disease. It stops threats like bacteria or viruses from getting into your body. Think of it as a powerful “search and destroy” task force that sends immune-cell forces out to hunt down the unwanted intruders and get rid of them. Your body makes proteins called antibodies that destroy abnormal or foreign cells. They help fend off common ailments like the flu or a cold, and protect you against major illnesses like cancer or heart disease.”
So what are some ways to keep your tot’s immune system in tip-top shape this cold and flu season? And how can swimming play a part?
An active lifestyle is necessary for physical well-being as well as important for a healthy immune system. Engaging children in active play for 60-120 minutes per day is ideal. According to Healthline.com, swimming works the entire body by:
- Increasing heart rate without stressing the body
- Toning muscles
- Building strength and endurance
- Conditioning the heart and lungs
Additionally, munching on healthy snacks goes hand-in-hand with active play. Encourage your children to “eat the rainbow” and fill their tummies with as many colorful fruits and veggies as possible to give their immune system a boost. Here are some ideas for fuel in the pool.
Lowering stress is one of the most important changes that can be made to improve the immune system, and believe it or not, children experience stress just like the rest of us. Swimming for just 30 minutes, three times a week, can lower stress levels, improve mood, lower incidences of depression and anxiety, and improve sleep patterns. The gentle stretching of muscles, the repetition of strokes and deep breathing are all meditative in nature and have been compared to the de-stressing attributes of yoga.
Children are determined to run their tiny digits over every surface imaginable…including the germ-covered ones. Make hand washing fun by using foaming soap, making homemade soap together, or better yet, making it a game by teaching them to blow bubbles through their fingers. Also, can you guess what activity is like a hand washing haven for little fingers? That’s right…SWIM LESSONS! Bring on the water!
You’ve heard it said that laughter is the best medicine, and it’s true. Studies have shown that laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, improving your resistance to disease. Laughter also increases feel-good hormones such as endorphins. Need a place to find a good belly laugh? Try a dip in the splishy-splashy pool with friends!
Playtime in the water is one of the best ways to tucker out the tots. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a child will spend 40 percent of their childhood asleep, and sleep is particularly important for children as it directly impacts their mental and physical development. Additionally, “sufficient sleep is necessary to create cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double whammy if you skimp on shut-eye.”
At Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, we know you live and breathe every day to keep your little ones safe and healthy. And we’re here to help! That’s why on top of all of the awesome benefits of swimming, we offer a year-round, indoor facility, 90 degree pool and fully-stocked changing room, complete with hair dryers. That way you can go back out into the fall and winter weather confident that your tot is as happy, healthy, safe and secure as possible.