Is Swimming in Chlorine Bad for You?

Swimming is a great way to get fit, but what if you're stuck swimming in chlorinated water? Get-Fit Guy's tips for limiting chlorine damage when you swim.

Ben Greenfield
1-minute read

Is Swimming in Chlorine Bad for You?

Swimming is a great way to get fit, but if your pool doesn’t have a saline, ozone, or a structured water filter, then you’re going to be stuck swimming in chlorine. Chlorine is used in pool water because it kills bacteria and germs, oxidizes organic debris from perspiration and body oils, and fights algae. But chlorine also creates side effects, such as red eyes, dry skin and hair, and a strong odor.

Chlorine can also cause health issues such as increased risk of developing allergies or asthma in kids. And among adults, exposure to chlorine in pools has been linked to bladder and rectal cancer and increased risk for coronary heart disease. Because chlorine gets absorbed directly into your skin, it doesn’t help to just keep your mouth closed and not swallow or breathe the chlorine.

But many (if not most) health club pools choose to go with chlorine in their water. So to limit chlorine damage, I recommend that you:

- Shower immediately before and after swimming using a natural, chemical-free soap.
- Drink plenty of non-chlorinated, filtered water before you swim so that you’re as hydrated as possible.
- Get fresh air into your lungs as soon as possible after you swim in an indoor pool (aka, go outside).
- Eat plenty of dark-skinned fruits and veggies, and consider using an antioxidant before swimming.

For more chlorine tips, you can listen to a chlorine and health audio interview by clicking here, and you can leave your questions on the Facebook.com/GetFitGuy page!


Swimmer photo from Shutterstock.

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.