How Swimming can Benefit Your Mental Health & Wellbeing
Swimming is a physical activity, but its influence in the field of mental health and wellbeing is enormous. It would not be an exaggeration to argue that in many cases, the benefits of swimming for mental health are greater than the physical ones.
All swimmers are, indeed, well aware of the therapeutic elements of water and the feeling of sweet calmness after a swimming session. The positive correlation between swimming and mental health is not just a common sense argument, but it's also scientifically proven.
Swimming is the Best Remedy for Mental Health & WellBeing
According to a poll, conducted in 2018 in the UK by the national governing body for swimming, 492,000 British adults with mental health issues have stated that swimming had caused a reduction in the number of visits to their medical doctors. The same poll showed that more than 490,000 people had reduced or stopped taking their medication, thanks to their swimming activity. Not only that, but the answers of about 3.3 million people with mental health problems, who were swimming at least once every 2-3 weeks, showed the following results:
- 43 % said that swimming made them feel better
- 26 % were more motivated to complete daily tasks
- 15 % stated that life felt more manageable
Additionally, swimming helped almost 1.44 million adults in Britain to reduce their symptoms of depression or anxiety.
5 Ways Swimming can Benefit Your Mental Health & Wellbeing
There could not be any dispute over the mental health and wellbeing benefits of swimming. But why is it so beneficial for the mental well-being? What are its qualitative elements that make swimming an activity that is much more than a lifesaving skill?
1: Swimming is a Physical Activity Tailored at Your Own Rhythm
Everybody knows that having hobbies and performing sports activities are good practices that can help in many ways. One major advantage of swimming is that you set your own pace. No-one is going to rush you, there is no way that you will be pushed to do things you don't want to do and you will set your own rhythm, the one that suits you.
The buoyancy of water allows all swimmers to participate in the action, without needing to be at the same pace with other swimmers. Some of them could choose to stay for hours in the swimming pool, while others would prefer to have a 10 or 20 minutes swimming session to relax their bodies and minds. The autonomy of movement in swimming is a great plus, that is rare to find in other sports.
2: The Therapeutic Qualities of Water
Water is the most substantial element of life and as such it has therapeutic qualities that could be extremely useful for the improvement of mental health. According to a journal of human kinetics “The effects and physical properties of water, such as density, hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy are highly useful resources for training...Exercising in water produces an increase in cardiac output, in the blood flow to muscles, and in the diffusion of metabolic waste products from muscle to blood, as well as a reduction in the time it takes to transport oxygen, nutrients, and hormones to fatigued muscles”.
At the same time, being in water is a very relaxing practice, as the whole body is underwater, transforming all the feeling of joy to the brain.
3: Your Body Releases Endorphins while Swimming
Endorphins are hormones that are produced in our bodies and cause feelings of euphoria. The swimming activity produces a great amount of endorphins, leaving you with a sense of joy that can last for many hours. This is why swimming is strongly advised as a morning activity, as it is a great exercise, giving you energy and boosting your positive feelings for the rest of the day.
4: Stress Levels are Reduced while Being in the Water
The negative effects of stress could be overwhelmingly serious for our mental balance, resulting even in health problems. Swimming is an excellent sport for reducing stress and anxiety and relaxing your mind. Passionate lovers of swimming could confirm that there is a kind of religious feeling, when they are either in the sea or in a swimming pool, being able to release all their negative thoughts and feeling rejuvenated.
5: Blood Flow is Increased through Swimming
An Australian study has revealed that immersion in warm water increases blood flow. Increased blood circulation is extremely important for the well-being of the body, as it allows a better circulation of oxygen to the vital parts of the body, providing energy and vitality. Increasing the blood flow is not only significant for the heart, muscles and arteries, but it also transforms more nutrients for the brain, resulting to a better functioning mind.