Swim England has called on the Government and healthcare professionals to “maximise the benefits” that swimming offers to society after publishing research on the economic impact of the sport.
According to the ‘Value of Swimming’ report, swimming is helping to save the health and social care system more than £357million a year.
Swim England say it is the most comprehensive report of its kind ever carried out by a sporting national governing body.
The analysis shows the largest health savings are made up from dementia (£139,546,106) and strokes (£100,046,173).
Other key savings are made in diabetes (£37,446,191), colon cancer (£10,433,330), breast cancer (£9,830,341) and depression (£9,501,792).
The report also reveals how £51,048,348 is saved as a result of reduced GP and psychotherapy visits by those who swim regularly.
The research is based on data collected on regular swimmers at over 1,000 pools in England over the past 12 months. The Datahub ‘Social Value Calculator’ (SVC) combines leisure operator data (from Datahub) with academic research (Sheffield Hallam University) and sector wide benchmarks (Experian) to show, in monetary terms, the value that swimming makes to the community through savings in health and social care costs.
Jane Nickerson, CEO of Swim England, said: “This report proves what those involved with swimming have known for a long time – that it truly has the power to help people live longer, better, happier lives.
“For the first time, it has highlighted how swimming saves our health and social care system hundreds of millions of pounds a year and the vital role it plays in tackling some of our biggest health conditions.
“However, we will only be able to maximise the benefits swimming can offer the nation by working in partnership with government, healthcare professionals and the wider swimming sector and we look forward to working together with them to deliver on the recommendations in the report.”
Other key highlights published in the report include:
- Swimmers report feeling on average 6.4% healthier than non-swimmers – this is comparable to feeling 12 years younger.
- Adults who swim were 4.3% happier than non-swimmers.
- Swimming outdoors more than doubles this happiness boost – lifting the moods of the nearly 7.5 million adults who swim outdoors each year.
- Of the 4.7m adults who swim at least twice a month, more than half (2.7m) are women. The report highlights how swimming particularly benefits women and girls, more than doubling their self-confidence.
- 1.4m adults feel that swimming had significantly reduced their symptoms of anxiety and or depression.
- The 1.88m children aged seven to 16 years in England who swim rate a “higher feeling of life being worthwhile” compared to those who didn’t.
- Whilst in the last 12 months 14m adults went swimming, the benefits to the nation could be even greater if progress can be made amongst the one in three adults in England that cannot swim.
- Swimmers are more likely to be socially connected – and 26.7% less likely to have no friends compared to non-swimmers.
Swim England has made a number of recommendations in the report to help swimming deliver even greater health, wellbeing and social benefits. This includes a call for more social prescribing of swimming by health professionals to further reduce GP visits and increase cost savings in health and social care.
In addition, the report calls for direct investment and support to develop the next generation of pools and encourages pool operators, local authorities and trusts to work together with Swim England to offer its Water Wellbeing Programme and improve the social impact of local facilities.