Exposing our bodies to the full force of gravity by using our bodies with the help of our limbs is what makes our bones stronger. As humans living on earth, with its gravity, we have evolved into boned upright beings that rely on strong bones to exist on this planet.
When I visited a New Scientist lecture event at the Excel last year, I was terribly disappointed that most of the speeches centred around outer space. I thought, so boring, there are no pools in space, I like swimming.
Then I didn’t know how swimming affects our bodies through gravity but now I do; it suddenly dawned on me that swimming takes place in less gravity than outside of a pool activities do. Our weight is reduced in the element of water.
When I watched a recent BBC documentary about the effect of sports on our bone density titled: ‘Which type of exercise gives you the strongest bones‘, I was amazed to learn that cycling is actually worst for bone health than other sports, that cyclists’ bone density is around 20% worst than that of Cricketers or Gymnasts.
That is due to the fact that cyclists do not use their whole body to propel within their activity but use a cycle and sit on it with part of their body. That reduces the physical effort the body uses.
Swimming does not strengthen our bones, it is good for soft tissue and organs, e.g. brain, heart and muscle-building. Because swimming reduces the gravity, I suppose constant swimming would severely reduce our bone density despite developing our muscles.
Most of us swim only for a few hours and most highly competitive swimmers couple swimming with severe land training, which compliments swimming and produces the land based activity that a strong skeleton needs.
Adam Peaty is famous for his strong-man land training, which makes his the fastest breast swimmer on earth at present.
Whilst swimming helps to develop the muscles, land training ensures bone health and strength. Our swimming club, Hackney Aquatics
I once worked on a cycle and cycled 10-12 hours per day, I completely collapsed with severe leg pain after nine months and still suffer from the consequences of an alteration of my leg muscle fibres and tendon damage due to a lot of cycling.
I now swim regularly to repair that damage.
But seriously if humanity would spend long periods of time in the water and had no exposure to gravitational pull and activities, I suppose we would evolve into humans with soft bones, probably what would be needed in an environment like the planet Mars or other outer space environments.
Humans with weak bones here on earth would start to suffer from brittle bones and constant breakages.
I like Earth though.