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A Logical Guide to "Why Can’t I Float."

Does the question, "How do I float?” constantly floats through your mind every time you get into the swimming pool? Then we know how utterly frustrating can it be for you to witness some of your friends float almost effortlessly while you find yourself paddling like a duck for the most part. While floating is referred to as something attempted in a stationary position, it is important to understand that some of us can float better than the rest. It all depends upon our body and our relative density.

Why Can't You Float?

Research suggests that a significant percentage of the entire population cannot float because of the genetic differences, gender, and different body types. While men tend to have comparatively more muscle mass than women, it is natural for some people to be on the heavier side of the weight and vice versa. That said, it is important here to understand that it is not always about the fat or muscle content in the body that governs whether you can float or not. Although the debate about the possible reasons can go on and on, prepared for you is a guide that will help you identify the reasons behind why some of us can float, and some of us cannot!

The Science Behind Floating – Taking A Closer Look!

It is important here to mention that most adults with completely developed lungs have an overall density of around 98 percent, which is less than the density of water. Although the difference is not too significant, it is enough for you to have a positive “Buoyancy," i.e., a body's tendency to stay afloat. If your body type features characteristics that are denser than water, you are more prone to sinking because of the negative buoyancy.

Lungs, Fat, Bones, Muscles, and Density – Are They Crucial To Float?

Research suggests that the fat stored in the body is comparatively less dense than bones and muscles, allowing it to displace water molecules and permitting fat to float more easily. This turns out to be a prime reason why most athletes find it hard to stay afloat on water surfaces. While the body's fat content plays a crucial role, your “Lung Capacity” is also a vital component in the said context. Acting like a balloon, the lungs can store air inside them – the more your lungs tend to inflate, the easier it would be for you to stay afloat!

While it is already established that a person with low body fat percentage cannot float at all, this is where the “Muscles" come into play. The human muscles are not only denser than fat, but they are also denser than water. This is why skinny or muscular people with a lower body fat percentage won't float at all and is more prone to sinking, provided that they don’t have a personal floatation device (PFD) or don’t know how to swim.

Key Takeaway Notes:

  • Although your body density depends viably upon BMI, fat, and muscle content, other factors can oscillate your effective density, for example, wet clothing, floatation aids, pockets full of pebbles or stones etc.

  • Muscle is denser than fat, and muscular people will generally have trouble floating.

  • Always make sure that your child carries a personal floatation device (PFD) whenever they go for swimming.

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