Thinking of going to your community pool this summer?

Turns out that your morning dip isn’t just a good way to beat the summer heat, but it also offers a number of physical and mental health benefits too.

Just ask Joanne Dondero. 

The 72-year-old will be competing in a half triathlon this September during the 2019 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. Dondero will have to swim nearly two kilometres, bike 90 kilometres and then run about 21 kilometres. 

But if you think her training begins inside the gymnasium, guess again. 

“You can get a great total body workout, in a pool,” says Consumer Reports Trisha Calvo. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), just two-and-a-half hours a week of aerobic physical activity, such as swimming, running or bicycling, can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses. Swimmers also have about half the risk of death compared with people who are inactive. 

“I can have a workout with different intensities, which can be for either strength, or endurance, flexibility, and or just relaxation,” says Dondero. 

By doing water-based exercises you can improve blood pressure and brain health, burn calories and strengthen your cardiovascular system. Plus -- there’s an extra benefit that you don’t get on land.

“Water is denser than air, so it provides more resistance,” says Calvo. “That means you’re challenging your muscles in a different way.”

Stretching with aqua yoga or aqua Pilates may also help improve agility and flexibility, and experts say water workouts are even less punishing on the body.

“You’re more buoyant in the water, so [there’s] less pain and stress on your joints like your hips and your knees,” Calvo adds. 

Water-based exercise can also improve the quality of life for older people, improve chronic conditions such as arthritis, and reduce disability, according to the CDC. 

And it’s not just for physical health; water-based exercising also has positive benefits on one’s mental health too. Swimming is shown to boost mood in both men and women, and water-based exercise can improve the health of a mother and her unborn child and positively affect the mother’s mental health.

Consumer Reports recommends looking for water classes near you –– if you can’t find a program you can get the same health benefits by walking briskly in the shallow end of a pool or by wearing a flotation belt and running in deep water. Whatever you choose -- do it at a moderate intensity at least twice a week. 

So this summer – dive right in!