WASHINGTON, D.C. – One in three Americans – and over half of Americans in the Northeast and Midwest regions – said the long, brutal winter of 2014 caused their worst cabin fever in at least a decade, and the “cure” many are looking forward to is jumping in a swimming pool, according to a national Ipsos survey .
Months of heavy snow fall, freezing temperatures and gray skies may be causing more pronounced symptoms of cabin fever. And the cure for the winter blues – that first dip in the pool – may be delayed by a cooler than usual spring.
“Swimming is a perfect cure for anyone suffering from an especially bad case of cabin fever this year,” said Chris Wiant, Ph.D., chair of the Water Quality and Health Council and president of the Caring for Colorado Foundation. “We stand to reap plenty of other health benefits from swimming, too.”
In the recent Healthy Pools public opinion survey, 37% of Americans ages 18-54 selected “swimming” as their favorite way to put the long, frigid winter behind them. “Gardening” was second at 24%, with “biking,” “hiking,” and “camping” each receiving 12-15%. Swimming was an especially popular choice among Americans ages 18-34, who selected it nearly three times as much as any other option.
The survey also found that many Americans were unaware of the many health benefits associated with swimming -- and to a greater degree, held mistaken beliefs to the contrary. For example, one in five Americans incorrectly believes that swimming in properly chlorinated pools is bad for those with asthma.
“As long as the pool is properly maintained, swimming is a great activity for people with asthma. Swimming can also improve cardiovascular health, increase strength and flexibility, enhance motor skills, and help manage weight,” said Dr. Ralph Morris of the Water Quality and Health Council. “It’s fun and it opens up a whole world of safe, water-based recreation.”
Green Hair and Red Eyes: Debunking the Chlorine Myths
The new Healthy Pools survey also found that most Americans mistakenly think chlorine in the pool damages hair and makes our eyes red:
- 73% of Americans incorrectly believe chlorine causes red eyes while swimming. The eye-opening reality is that red, irritated eyes are actually caused by chloramines, a group of chemicals that forms when chlorine combines with substances brought into the pool by swimmers. These include body oils, sweat and urine.
- 2 in 5 Americans believe that chlorine turns hair green. This is a very common misconception. When swimmers’ hair takes on a greenish tint, copper is the real culprit. Copper is added to pool water when old brass fittings or gas-heater coils dissolve over time and chemicals to treat algae are used.
“Proper pool chemistry is key to healthy swimming. Swimmers can do their part to stop chloramines from forming in the first place by showering before swimming and not peeing in the pool,” said Michele Hlavsa, chief of the Healthy Swimming Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “We also encourage swimmers to check chlorine levels and pH with pool test strips before getting in the pool.”
As part of its award-winning summer Healthy Pools initiative, the Water Quality and Health Council is once again making free pool test strips available to the public this summer. To order a kit, visit www.healthypools.org .
Too Many Americans Are Missing Out on the Health Benefits of Swimming
In order to experience the many health benefits of swimming, people first need to know how to swim. But the Healthy Pools survey found that one in five Americans admit that they lack that skill.
“Becoming a swimmer is the first step to opening a spectrum of fun and healthy activities for the entire family – grandparents, grandkids and everyone in between,” said Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., and CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation. “Our Step Into Swim program is just one way people can learn how to swim.”
To learn more about the Water Quality & Health Council and its efforts to raise awareness of the importance of disinfection for public health, please visit www.waterandhealth.org .
For healthy swimming information from CDC, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming .
This Healthy Pools study was conducted among an online sample of 1,506 American adults by Ipsos on May 13, 2014. Margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.