WATER SMART BABIES - SCIENTIFIC BENEFITS OF BABY SWIM LESSONS
by Lana Whitehead
#1 REDUCES THE RISK OF DROWNING
- A case-controlled study conducted by Ruth Brenner and her colleagues discovered that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged one to four years. The authors concluded that swimming lessons "should be considered for inclusion as part of a complete prevention program." In a case-controlled study in rural China, Dr. L. Yang and his associates reported a 40% reduction in drowning risk in open bodies of water for children participating in formal swimming lessons."
- In a case-controlled study in rural China,Dr. L. Yang and associates reported a 40% reduction in drowning risk in open bodies of water for children participating in in formal swimming lessons.
# 2 BOOSTS DEVELOPMENT OF WHOLE CHILD
- Scientific studies at the German Sports College Cologne have shown that early year round swimming lessons for young children accelerated their development physically, intellectually and emotionally.
- As compared with a control group which did not take year-round lessons, the children who swam consistently from infancy were significantly stronger and and more coordinated.
- The children scored higher for intelligence and problem solving, which carried over into excellence in academic achievement.
- Emotionally, they were found to have more self-discipline, greater self-control and an increased desire to succseed.
- They rated higher in self-esteem and were more independent and comfortable in social situations than the control groups.
#3 IMPROVES MOTOR DEVELOPMENT
- Studies conducted at Norwegian University of Science and Technology with Dr. Hermundur Sigmundsson and his colleagues found baby swimmers developed better balance, movement and grasping techniques than non-swimmers. This difference persisted even when the children were five years old; the baby swimmers still outperformed their peers in these skills.
- Zelazo and Weiss reported that baby swimmers made "considerable gains in movement required for for turning 180 degrees and reaching for a wall (underwater) for the 16 to 20 month old children." The researchers concluded buoyancy most likely boosted the infant's motor development.
#4 ACCELERATES COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
- Starting in 2009, Griffith University embarked on a large, 4 year Early Years Swimming Research Project with 45 swim schools Australia, New Zealand and the United States, the largest study of its kind.
- The preliminary results show that children under the age of 5 involved in swimming lessons are more advanced in their cognitive and physical development than their non-swimming peers.
- The results show minor benifits to social and language development.
- In 20011, researchers in Melbourne reported intellectual and physical benefits form early swim lessons.
- The scientist determined children who were taught to swim by 5 years of age had statistically higher IQs.
- The research also showed that moving in high water resistance strenghtened the children's muscles more rapidly than playing on the floor because swimming activates more large muscle groups.
#5 INCREASES MEMORY CAPACITY
- Recent studies have shown the amount of a person's movement and excercise affects the size and memory capacity of their hippocampus. The hippocampus is an area of the brain primarily associated with memory and learning.
- Draganski and Gaser observed an increased number of neurons in the hippocampus of humans in a controlled excercise program.
- Art Kramer and his colleagues at the University of Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh discovered that " higher fit people have a bigger hippocampus." They concluded that more tissue in the hippocampus equates with increased ability in certain types of memory.
# 6 EXPANDS CEREBRAL COMMUNICATION
- Fascinating new research reports that a baby's brain develops through bilateral cross patterning movements like swimming, crawaling and walking.
- The more cross patterning movements, the more nerve fibers develop in the corpus callosum in the brain. The corpus callosum facilitates communication, feedback and modulation from one side of the brain to the other.
- Cross patterning movements like swimming activate both cerebral hemispheres and all 4 lobes of the brain simultaneously, which can result in heightened cognition and increase ease of learning.
- Good communication in the cerebral hemispheres leads to overall efficiency in brain processes, while poor interaction slows down language development and academic learning.
#7 STRENGTHENS SOCIAL CONFIDENCE
- In a longitudinal study, Dr. Liselott Diem and her colleagues reported that children who had taken part in baby swimming lessons from the age of 2 months to 4 years were better adapted to new situations and had more self confidence and independence than non-swimmers.
- Swim class has abundant opportunities to share space with other children and to explore movement together. The child cooperates within a social structure to learn by obseving and mimicking.
- Feeling special, loved and wanted builds self-esteem through a a sense of belonging. "Being part of a group also contributes to the child's social development.'
#8 ENHANCES NEUROLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT
- The child experiences a great deal of tactile stimulation from the water resistance over the entire body while swimming which encourages neurological development.
- Results of research by Dr. Ruth Rice revealed that infants made "significant gains in neurological development, weight gain and mental development" from the tactile stimulation of the nerve pathways of the skin and vestibular nerve cells.
- Water has over 600 times the resistance of air. Tactile experiences and interactions in the water are important for overall neural organization.
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