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5 benefits of swimming on mental health

The benefits of swimming on mental health are increasingly being championed and researched.

The benefits of swimming on physical health have long been promoted and explored. We all know that it is a great cardiovascular workout, how it is accessible to disabled people, those with injuries and older people,  how it supports and does not overly stress the body.  We have been told repeatedly how swimming builds up endurance and burns off calories and has few injuries compared to many other sports.

But what about the benefits of swimming on mental health?

A YouGov poll, commissioned by Swim England,  discovered that almost 500k people have reduced, or no longer take, medication for their mental health condition as a result of going swimming. How absolutely amazing is that! So much better than mediation right?

I know from personal experience that swimming makes you feel good. Ever since I was a child I always knew that when I had finished swimming I would always feel a sense of well-being and of calm that I was never really able to pinpoint.

It’s interesting to take a look at the benefits of swimming on the mind.

 

 

benefits of swimming on mental health

 

Swimming costume for ladies from Simply Swim

 

The benefits of swimming on mental health

There are so many awesome benefits of swimming on mental health

You don’t have to think

When you swim (for exercise rather than pleasure) you don’t really have to think too much.  Unlike other sports where you might worry who to pass the ball too or when to jump that hurdle, with swimming you just need to … swim. Okay, your mind might flood with other thoughts initially but it won’t be worrying about swimming unless you are swimming competitively.  and its rather lovely not to have to think too much about what you are doing. Your body might be working but your mind doesn’t have to,  your busy brain can stop.

 

Mindfulness

When I swim I am aware of my arms rotating and my breathing and I am always very much in the moment. Thoughts come and go and kind of float on by. I am very present and that is very calming and healthy. Sometimes my swims start off with me worrying about yesterday and pondering tomorrow but pretty soon I am absolutely in the now. It is the perfect exercise for mindfulness.

 

Repetitiveness and silence

Unlike cycling where you have to be hyper alert to traffic and endlessly stopping and starting there is a repetitiveness and harmony in swimming which coupled with the silence of it, it renders it a very calming exercise. It enables you to turn off that alertness and to de-stress.  Apparently, research has shown that swimming can reduce anxiety on a level comparable to practising yoga – body and mind alertness can really come down apace.

 

Exercise is always good for our mental health

Even though we think by swimming we are giving out body our work out we are also giving our minds some much-needed attention too. Endorphins and neurotransmitters like serotonin are released as we exercise and these are wonderful mood lifters.

 

It makes your brain healthy!

Yes, seriously. A recent study has shown that immersion in water boosts blood flow to the brain. This blood flow boost increases the supply of oxygen, glucose and nutrients which makes our brains healthier. How interesting!

 

Personal reflections

I asked some of my peers what benefits they got form swimming other than the physical and they said various things from ..it relaxes me, it reminds me of being on holiday. it is space away from everything, it helps me work through worries till I feel calm again, I love the quiet, no one at all can contact me when I am swimming, and it feels like meditation……I could go on! High praise indeed for the benefits of swimming.  All agreed it made them feel more chilled out.

How wonderful!

There are clearly many benefits of swimming on mental health.

 

benefits of swimming on mental helath

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2 Comments

  1. January 21, 2019 / 6:52 pm

    I’ve been signed off work for the past 8 weeks and I’m struggling to find something to boost my mental health. I used to run, but can’t seem to work up the energy. I hadn’t considered swimming, but It’s got to be worth a shot. At least no one can chat to me while I’m doing that…!

  2. December 18, 2018 / 8:25 am

    Swimming is a sport that can both relax and help with health. Thank you for your post

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