Is swimming in nature healthier than cooling off in a pool?

There are many different places where people can swim – rivers, canals, ponds, lakes, seas and oceans, as well as pools. Scientists are studying which environment is the safest and healthiest to refresh, the portal “Science Alert” says.

Outdoor swimming is not only a pleasant way to enjoy nature, sun and fresh air, but it can also help reduce stress and increase endorphin levels. Swimming makes you feel good, burns calories and exercises your muscles.

However, swimmers in nature can be at risk from waves, currents, pesky insects and bacteria. Sometimes untreated sewage also flows into rivers, lakes and seas. Swimming in the pool also has certain risks – you can get urinary tract infections, ear infections, stomach ulcers.

Dirty pools can cause eye inflammation and be a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, in addition to urine, feces and sweat entering the water.

Outdoor swimming poses different risks and potential illnesses than swimming in a pool, but where is it healthiest to swim – a pool, a river, a lake, a canal or the sea?

Toxic waters

Unlike swimming pools, where the purity of the water is carefully monitored, the composition of the water in the wild is constantly changing. This means that chemicals from farms or industrial areas can enter the water, animals can take care of their natural needs, and sewage can enter the water in various places.

In the wild, there may be no signs of danger and water purity. The presence of toxic substances may not be visible to the naked eye.

If you have doubts about the purity of the water, it is better not to enter the water. If the water looks and smells strange, it’s a good idea to follow your instincts.

There is also a natural hazard compared to a pool. Blue-green algae naturally occur in lake ecosystems. During warm summer, algae multiply and form a green foam on the surface of the lake. Blue-green algae blooms can release toxins that are harmful to humans and sometimes even fatal to animals.

Swimming in or swallowing water containing algal toxins can cause skin diseases, eye irritation, severe gastrointestinal upset, fever, and muscle and joint pain.

Bacteria and viruses

Diarrhea is the most common ailment associated with outdoor swimming. This is often due to sewage pollution.

People can get sick if they swallow contaminated water that contains bacteria and viruses like E. coli and norovirus.

The urine of rats living in sewage near freshwater rivers or canals may contain the bacterial pathogen leptospira. It causes the infectious disease leptospirosis. Infection occurs when soil or water from a lake, river or canal containing urine from infected animals is swallowed, gets into the swimmer’s eyes or a wound.

Leptospirosis can cause liver and kidney damage and can be fatal if left untreated.

If a person develops flu or jaundice symptoms up to two weeks after swimming in a river or canal, a leptospirosis test is recommended.

A 2018 study concluded that people who swam in the sea were more likely to get ear, nose, throat, stomach and intestinal infections compared to those who stayed on the beach.

Pool or water in nature?

With all of the above infections in mind, even if a swimmer gets sick in the pool, a supervised pool will always be a safer and healthier environment to swim in. In addition, in some places in the open air there is a risk that a person will be stung by jellyfish.

Compared to a pool, people swimming in nature are at a higher risk of getting sick because the water will always contain germs that can cause infections.

Swimming pool water with an adequate level of chlorine disinfection is much less likely to contain infectious microorganisms, so the pool is a much safer environment for recreation in the water. The pool is less likely to get injured and drown because it has trained lifeguards and lifesaving equipment.

The golden mean – an outdoor pool. A person can swim in the sun, and in a sanitary environment.

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