The sun is beating down. Sweat drips from the tips of noses onto sweltering concrete. It’s summer: the season of relaxation, suntans, and, most importantly, pools. In the most intense bouts of heat, nothing quite offers the same relief as a glimmering oasis as close as the comfort of one’s home. However, pools can provide much more than just relief from the heat; these watery havens serve purposes in enriching regular lives as well as in both mental and physical health.
For the average person, images of pools may first bring to mind thoughts of recreation and enjoyment. From seeing neighborhood kids to advertisements on television, the warmer seasons are flooded with swim trunks and elaborate floaties. After all there’s a reason swimming is known to be the most popular recreational activity for children and teens according to the US Census Bureau (“Healthy Swimming”). Pools are an easy way to cool off and simply let loose,enjoying flexibility of motion under the water that the normal confines of gravity don’t always allow for on land. They also provide a place for social gatherings and bonding. Public pools,backyard pools, or even school pools are all great places for friends to gather and soak up some vitamin D together. Beyond this, swimming pools allot for one for one of the most beneficial forms of exercise: swimming! Swimming provides a full-body aerobic workout that increases flexibility
and strength (Robinson). Simultaneously, the horizontal nature of swimming allows for lessened pressure on the spinal region, which in turn improves posture and helps prevent chronic pain that ends to arise from sedentary lifestyles (Heid). In addition, for those with osteoarthritis, the distribution of pressure from the water allows for pain relief and prevention of injury (Heid). The same relief applies to various other people in need of low-impact exercise such as pregnant women and the elderly.
For those who do not take to swimming, there are still other alternatives with similar benefits that make use of pools; they may be as simple as walking, squatting, or doing leg-lifts under the water. A pool provides a locale for these types of healthy activities in an accessible and gratifying manner. More importantly, a pool provides a place of relief from physical pain, a rarity that is much needed and appreciated.Apart from the physical, there is also a laundry list of mental benefits that come with pools and affiliated activities. A study conducted by the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York examined mood and personal inventories of college students both before and after swimming classes and found decreases in negative emotions such as confusion, anger,depression, and tension following the classes (Berger and Owen).
In a similar vein, specialized pools with higher salinity levels have been used to decrease anxiety and treat those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, allowing for meditative-like states and relief without addicting prescription drugs such as lorazepam (Oaklander). Though this alleviation is not always permanent, pools allow for issues to almost float away, if only for a moment of peace. Other research is still being done regarding the benefits of merely being around water but current results are positive.
Mathew White and his team at the European Center of Environment and Human Health found people associated aquatic scenes with being more attractive and restorative(White, et al.). Due to this, pools themselves may yet prove to provide a mentally calming and regenerative visual or, at the very least, a lovely view.However, despite all of the advantages to pools, they are not without some drawbacks. A pool comes with many risks and commitments. Under insurance policies, pools are known as “attractive nuisances” meaning that they add value on some levels and attract people (guests,children, etc.) but are simultaneously a liability that costs in various areas from accident coverage to repairs (Thrasher).
This means that expenses from the get-go are higher than average for a home with a pool as compared to one without. Some costs that are notable are insurance fees, installation expenses, pool accessories (covers, toys, fences, etc.), utility bills, and general maintenance. Maintenance itself is a topic crucial for the safety of those utilizing the pool and full enjoyment of the pool. To properly maintain one’s pool, one must keep balanced pH levels,regulate filtration systems, and clean it regularly. Without these, the dangers of having a pool skyrocket as risks of chemical imbalances or bacterial breeding increase. In 2008, for example,there were over 4,500 cases of poisoning due to improperly balanced chemicals within pools being ingested or inhaled, and between 2009 and 2010 there were over 1,000 cases of individuals affected by water-associated outbreaks (“Healthy Swimming”). The amount of dedication needed for proper upkeep is high, whether it be monetary or in terms of personal effort, which can in itself be a large deterrent to those interested in pools.
To others, this may be especially lackluster depending on weather and its impact on one’s ability to use a pool at all during certain seasons. Nonetheless, these drawbacks can be mitigated by several factors. With growing technological advances and websites outlining the best of maintenance tools, taking care of pools has gotten easier and easier. For installation of automatic filtration systems or robotic pool cleaners one need only order them online. If that still is quite inconvenient, pool cleaning businesses operate for the sole purpose of maintaining and regulating pools, though for a fee. In general, the key to lowering the hazards of pools is simply to be more conscious and work top reemptively to stop them. This in the long run makes pools more sustainable financially and personally. Besides, the value in pools goes beyond the monetary; to invest in a pool means to reap all the benefits that come with it from entertainment to health. Furthermore, with the use of pool heaters or indoor pools these assets can be experienced year-round.
Though not everyone may be lucky enough to or able to own a pool themselves, this does not mean that pools can not still be accessed or play a role in their lives. To enjoy a pool one has many options from attending a local gym to taking a vacation at a hotel that has one. The fulfillment that comes with actually experiencing a pool is much like the pool itself: the surface is wonderful on its own, but the true, enveloping freedom lies deeper. The only way to feel it is to dive right in.