Swimming enhances physical and mental well-being, which is no surprise to anyone who regularly visits the pool deck. However, there are extra benefits that you may be unaware of that go beyond the apparent. Increased blood flow strengthens the heart, boosts aerobic capacity, and improves our muscles’ efficiency.
Swimming teaches us things that go well beyond the water, such as teamwork, dedication, and willpower, to mention a few. We develop friends who will always have our backs and create memories that will last a lifetime through sports.
Regular swimming has a profoundly favorable effect on both our mental and physical well-being. It can be a powerful medication to treat mental diseases like anxiety, depression, and others. Swimming directly impacts our brain, resulting in several advantages for our mental health, some of which are listed here. You never know what you might discover!
Endorphins are released throughout any exercise, including swimming. Endorphins, which function like a natural painkiller, are hormones released in the pituitary gland in response to stress or pain. These endorphins work with brain receptors to lessen the sense of pain.
Endorphins contribute to feelings of happiness, optimism, and well-being alongside serotonin. Research has also shown that routinely releasing feel-good hormones (known as exercising) has profound advantages for mental health and enhances how well your body handles stress.
When you swim, you have a lot on your mind: your breathing pattern, how many laps you’ve completed, and how close you are to other swimmers to avoid a collision. If you swim competitively, you must also improve your stroke technique and pace to complete your intervals. Keeping track of these variables means you should have little mental room to consider your issues outside the pool. You get a little break from your daily worries to focus solely on swimming.
Swimming requires you to be able to control your breathing. When you’re stressed or panicked, your breathing becomes shallower and faster. This can cause hyperventilation and possibly a panic attack.
However, the breathing rhythm used while swimming guarantees that you take in enough air to prevent such assaults. It is a beautiful lung workout since it pushes you to inhale and exhale evenly. This, in turn, can aid in reducing blood pressure, eliminating toxins from the body, and relaxation.
Carter et al. discovered that simply submerging yourself in water boosts blood flow to the brain. This improves memory, mood, focus, and overall cognitive function. Swimming has also been proven in studies to restore stress-induced brain damage via hippocampus neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons). This discovery is detailed in a Psychology Today article.
“The hippocampus—a brain region involved in memory, emotion regulation, and learning—is critical for mental health.” Other animal studies reveal that exercise causes the formation of new hippocampus neurons (neurogenesis), and preliminary data suggests that this is also true in people.” Sarah Gingell’s
This suggests that exercise can cause the hippocampus to enlarge, improving the brain’s oxygen supply. Swimming enhances food availability to the brain, proving it can cure mental diseases such as anxiety and depression.
“Blue Mind” refers to a state of serenity and peace associated with water. According to science, we are inherently drawn to blue space as humans. This results in a sense of well-being and calm when we are around or in bodies of water. Because water comprises 70% of our bodies and covers approximately 75% of the earth’s surface, our brains have an immediate positive response when we are near water. According to Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, author of the best-selling book Blue Mind,
“Research has shown that being near, in, on, or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body, including stress and anxiety reduction, an increase in overall well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safer, more effective workouts.” Aquatic therapists increasingly turn to water to treat and manage PTSD, addiction, anxiety disorders, autism, and other conditions.”
Furthermore, simply coming into contact with water or hearing water flow can trigger a flood of neurochemicals that make us happier, healthier, and less stressed. Is it time to go to the beach?
Almost all our senses are engaged while swimming: sight, sound, touch, and smell. It is one of the few technological diversions. Furthermore, the “screenless” environment reduces stress and promotes relaxation and creativity. Moreover, water moving over our bodies generates a massage-like feeling. Swimming, in summary, helps us relieve pent-up tension while also making us more aware of our surroundings.
How may swimming benefit your mental health?