When it comes to the ultimate physical and mental stress-busting workout, swimming is hard to beat – and it’s not just weight loss that’s proved to be a huge benefit of getting in the water!
According to research conducted by YouGov, swimming has significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety or depression for 1.4 million adults in Britain. The poll, commissioned by Swim England, reveals that more than 490,000 people have reduced, or no longer take medication for their mental health condition as a result of swimming.
But how does it help to reduce anxiety and stress?
Being in contact with water can help to loosen your body and mind. Better still, being immersed in water while swimming and paying close attention to your technique and breathing as you practise the regular rhythm of your swimming strokes can have a very relaxing, almost meditative effect on the mind. Often people turn into autopilot while swimming, but by being aware of your breathing and really taking in your surroundings, like the sounds you can hear and the feel of the water, you can reach a mindful state.
Regular swimming, even for just half an hour at a time, is known to be effective for lowering incidences of depression and anxiety by releasing endorphins: the natural, feel-good hormones that lead us to experience a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing.
Swimming also stabilises our excess fight-or-flight stress hormones, converting our angst into muscle relaxation. Find it hard getting to sleep? Endorphins also help to improve your sleep pattern, so swimming is a perfect solution for those who suffer from insomnia.
Can Outdoor Swimming Help with Mental Health?
There are many obvious benefits to swimming outdoors, including the exercise itself, green and blue ‘therapy’ (the benefits to mental health of spending time outside) and the sense of community — but cold water appears to offer something else in addition. Taking a cold water plunge enables a “swimmer’s high”, thanks to the rush of endorphins that the body provides. This stimulates the parasympathetic system, which is responsible for resting and repairing the body. This triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin which are responsible for making you happy.
For more on the benefits of swimming, read our blog.
How to Incorporate Swimming into a Regular Workout
We all know that the hardest part of a workout is motivating yourself to do it but, once you get going, you feel all the benefits! Whether you prefer outdoor swimming or the safe confines of an indoor pool, initially reserve one or two mornings or evenings a week to take the deep dive.
If you’re already a regular gym-goer, make a dip in the pool at the end of your workout part of your exercise regime. This will help you get used to the idea of swimming before you can dedicate more time to it. Eating the right food and getting stocked up with proper swimming gear, like our top-of-the-range goggles, will also increase your motivation to take the plunge.
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