Psychology of wet suits in water exercise

The important differences in the need to stay warm in structured aquatic programs versus the need to stay warm in casual water recreation (e.g. going to the beach) enable you to understand the natural and important role that thermal aquatic wear plays.

Imagine going out on a cool day intentionally choosing not to bring along a sweater or light jacket knowing that you will eventually become uncomfortably chilled. It’s a peculiar thought isn’t it? Since most of us have an assortment of sweaters, sweatshirts, and jackets we wear to keep warm, why would we choose to be cold? Of course, we normally wouldn’t. Why, then, do many tolerate becoming cold when participating in aquatic activities when thermal aquatic wear is so readily available.


For most people, going into the water is a possibility largely determined by air and water temperatures. Most go to beaches or pools to enjoy brief swims and the cooling comfort of being in and around the water on warm, sunny days. Empty beaches on rainy days support the argument. Since staying cool is often their intent, becoming chilled in the water is of minor concern since they can spend as little or as much time in the water as their comfort dictates. Most have a lifetime’s experience passively maintaining their comfort levels in this way and are not concerned about extending their comfort in the water.


But for others, going into the water is more than a possibility determined by air and water temperatures and becoming chilled is a concern. They spend more time in the water. Passively awaiting perfect conditions it too limiting. For comfort they must adjust to the conditions at hand through the use of wet suits and thermal aquatic wear. Divers, surfers, sailboarders, jet skiers, and water skiers are examples.


There is another distinct, aquatic world where people spend longer periods of time in the water to learn to swim, exercise, or rehabilitate; the world of professional aquatics. Like the diver and surfer, cooling off is not their objective. Although professional aquatics typically conducts its business in controlled environments, a specific, ideal temperature may not be possible and individuals become cold.

Thermal aquatic wear is an ideal solution. Aquatic professionals, however, should recognize that because many individuals are accustomed to passively relating to the water rather than actively adjusting to it, thermal aquatic wear may be unfamiliar. They may not understand how thermal aquatic wear actually works to preserve body heat. Aquatic professionals who recognize when thermal aquatic wear will benefit certain individuals and are able to knowledgably discuss its use will be able to contribute to the success of their programs for those cold students and prevent attrition when their pool conditions are not able to please everyone.

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