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How swimming improves mental health

12/20/2022 | Written by in Adults
How swimming improves mental health

The figures are shocking: One in five Australians experience a mental illness symptom each year. Mental health issues cost Australia around 20 billion dollars per year. This is a very serious socio-economical case. Swimming however is an activity that can improve mental health issues. Find out how.


The statistics of mental health in Australia

The numbers speak for themselves: Every year 20 % of people living in Australia face a mental health problemThis translates to approximately five million people. The most worrying figure nevertheless, is that more than half of them don’t look for any treatment. Furthermore, even a late appeal for medical assistance leads to delayed treatment, thus diminishing the possibilities of a successful cure.

At the same time, the financial cost is huge. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) during the 2019-2020 period, mental health services in the country cost $ 11 billion which corresponds to $ 431 per person. The total cost, however, rises even further, considering the government’s benefits, the subsidised prescriptions and the cost of man-hours lost due to mental health problems. To make things even worse, AIHW informs us that there was a 1,3 annual average increase in the real capita spending on mental-health-related services from 2015-2016 to 2019-2020.


The benefits of swimming for mental health

Of course, the lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic played a crucial role in the increase in mental-health-related issues. The statistical research during the next years will tell us if this rise was temporary or not. In any case, there’s one undisputed fact: Swimming can improve drastically the mental health status of the population. Here are the main reasons why:


  • Swimming releases negative feelings of tension and stress
  • Swimming increases feelings of well-being
  • Swimming sharpens mental sharpness
  • Swimming lifts the mood
  • Swimming reinforces self-appreciation and self-esteem
  • Swimming helps develop social skills


Those are just the main advantages that swimming offers to people with mental health problems. It is a combination of different factors that can provide an essential helping hand and improve the daily lives of all individuals in need. Physical enhancement, the release of all negative feelings, the daily interaction with caring professionals, and the release of endorphins that cause feelings of pleasure and joy are correlating factors which help enormously people suffering from mental health issues.


The mental aspects of swimming

Contrary to the general feeling, swimming is not just a physical activity. Of course, there can be tremendous physical benefits from swimming. This is obvious just by witnessing the excellent body shape of regular swimmers. This is not the whole story though. Swimming can provide numerous mental benefits to all people who dive in the swimming pool regularly.


  • Swimming reinforces self-discipline
  • Swimming increases positive feelings
  • Swimming improves cognitive functions
  • Swimming broadens horizon
  • Swimming enhances self-belief


All the above mental benefits of swimming are valuable supportive elements not only for people with mental health issues but also for society. Being in the water, setting up new goals, growing confidence and evaluating the satisfaction gained by social relationships are rates of prosperity. Personal evolution goes hand in hand with social evolution because people are social beings. No one can flourish by himself and no social benefits can occur from unhappy people.


The significance of talking about mental health

It is beyond any doubt that mental health is a sensitive issue and there are no easy solutions. Moreover, there seems to be a paradox. Whereas during the past mental health problems were not so frequent, people were much less open to talking about the problem. In theory, fewer medical cases could be dealt with more effectively. Nowadays, on the other hand, although there is a constant rise in the number of people facing mental health issues, there is a more open approach and a wider share of relevant experience. Maybe it’s not a paradox but a logical consequence, maybe many mental cases in the past were not recorded. There are no easy answers, for sure.


The wonderful Michael Phelps

What is certain is that when well-known people talk openly about mental problems, they stand as an example and ignite a similar attitude in the rest of society. Such is the case of the wonderful Michael Phelps who spoke openly about his depression and anxiety problems. Many individuals on the outside can think: How is it possible for an Olympic champion, an elite swimmer and a person without financial issues to have suicidal thoughts?”

This is a simplistic response though because mental health issues make no distinctions. There are no rules in cases like that. Mental health problems are not a stigma and no one should ever think that it’s his/her fault for dealing with such issues. Fortunately, the great Mr Phelps together with many more elite athletes of all sports have contributed significantly to the change of mindset and on the right road to follow. This is why it’s so important to always talk about our problems. This is why swimming can be a great remedy for all pain!

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