5 Reasons Why Swimming Is Good for Mental Health
We know that exercise, in general, can positively affect our mental health, but swimming has many additional benefits that other forms of exercise can’t offer including that swimming is good for mental health. Speedo surveyed almost 1,200 swimmers about how swimming affects their mental health. Researchers found that
- 70% agreed that swimming helps them feel mentally refreshed and
- 69% said that being in the water helps them feel good about themselves.
Here are 5 other reasons why swimming is good for mental health
Keeping a consistent breath pattern, like one has to do when swimming, can actually reduce anxiety, aid in relaxation, and even lower blood pressure. The increased lung capacity and strength gained when swimming regularly can also help folks regulate their breathing patterns when experiencing dysregulated breathing due to stress, leading to a panic attack.
The body also increases blood flow to the brain when in water. Increased blood flow to the brain improves cognitive functioning and emotion regulation. This means that being regularly immersed in water can help prevent anxiety and depression.
Increases good chemicals
Exercise releases positive hormones called endorphins. Endorphins act as a natural pain reliever for the body. They make us feel happy and positive after a workout. Sometimes this feeling is called a runner’s high. These feelings of happiness stick around and offer many positive mental health benefits.
Swimming also increases neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin are sometimes called “happy hormones” because of their ability to regulate mood and emotion. Dopamine plays a significant role in the brain’s reward center, which means that the more dopamine you have, the easier it is to stay motivated, curb cravings, and regulate your mood. Serotonin regulates your sleep cycle, concentration, and emotions, making it an important chemical needed to maintain positive wellbeing.
Flow is “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” It is a joyful experience that promotes many positive, long-term mental health benefits. Achieving a flow state regularly correlates with better self-esteem and overall psychological well-being.
When someone is swimming, they focus on their body’s processes, including their breath, form, placement in the pool, etc. Swimming takes their mind off things happening outside of the pool and focuses on the present. They get lost in themselves and what they are doing in the present moment.
According to Johns Hopkins, exercise can help people get a better night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep helps people feel less stressed and more optimistic about their life. Sleep not only allows us to recuperate energy for the next day, but it also helps improve our cognitive function and memory. A good night’s sleep can also help us consolidate and process positive emotional content! There are so many positive effects when one starts getting the proper amount of sleep.
In the same Speedo study mentioned at the beginning of the article, researchers found that 74% of swimmers surveyed agreed that swimming helped them release stress and tension.
Blue mind science also explains that water and the color blue will naturally calm humans. We tend to feel more peaceful and less stressed when we are near or in any body of water. Our breathing rate lowers, our heartbeats slower, and our body calms down. Also, the sounds of water on its own can increase the good brain chemicals we talked about earlier: serotonin and dopamine.