Research suggests that swimming improves mental clarity and is effective in releasing stress.
Arguably one of the most recommended forms of exercise by physicians for physical rehabilitation, it is also a great way to balance mood and improve focus.
A sport considered sustainable and practiced well into old age, swimming helps to boost health and maintain overall mental clarity.
Avid swimmers know the good sensation that can be felt after a swim. An overall sensation of relaxation and excess energy expenditure. The mind is awake and the body alert. Recent research indicates that swimming assists both physical and mental well-being. These effects can be seen in managing mood and improving focus.
Although the benefits of swimming are non-exhaustive, swimmers often experience the following physiological advantages:
Increased blood flow that supports cardiac health
Greater aerobic capacity
Improved muscle strength
Improved movement efficiency, timing, and coordination
Swimming also extends its benefits in aiding with mental well-being. Well-known for aiding in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress; the effects swimming has on our brain are significant.
Here are three ways swimming benefits our mental well-being:
1. Stress Relief
Swimming is one of the rare sports that separates us from technology. No metal equipment, no beeping sounds, no screens. Being in the water favors an environment that reduces anxiety and encourages tranquility.
While swimming, all the senses are awakened with sight, touch, sound, and smell. The multi-sensory experience brings a calming effect to exercise mostly offering a serene audio-visual experience.
According to a study conducted by the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences of the University of Bucharest in 2014, “Swimming is the only sport to be recommended in more than 80% of the medical cases and to have a large target audience, accessible to both children and the elderly.
From a psychological perspective, swimming reduces the mental tensions and anxiety, caused by everyday stress and the competition one, while avoiding hostility and frustration in life, in a beneficial way. “
“The study aligns with the international research that supports the fact that, through its qualities, water exerts a strong tonic effect on the nervous system, a phenomenon that underlies the recommendation of swimming in nervous asthenia, mental and neuro-vegetative disorders. “
2. Boosts blood flow to the brain
Swimming increases blood flow to the brain, mostly responsible because of the horizontal body positioning and nature of the movement which engages virtually your entire body.
This physiological event produces cognitive benefits on the brain helping to improve mood, focus, and awareness.
Recent studies have shown that swimming can help improve symptoms and aid in the healing of brain injuries caused by stress. Increased blood flow to the brain helps in improving cognitive performance.
3. Enables conscientious breathing
Breathing is a great way to reduce anxiety. Swimming allows you to train your breathing quality and quantity allowing you to develop better breathing awareness. Swimmers who experience anxiety and lack of control in the water will often take shallow inhales and forget to exhale gradually, causing them to become tight and hyperventilate. Working on better breathing while swimming also helps us translate that to our daily breathing quality.
Regulating your breathing while swimming is crucial to the fluidity of your stroke. Working on a smooth and consistent cycle of inhaling and exhaling while swimming greatly improves your swimming ability and also provides stress relief.
Swimming is a wonderful way to stay fit, reduce stress, and experience exercise in a unique environment. It allows us to immerse ourselves in a medium that allows us to forget our stress of the day and engage in a multi-dimensional sensory experience.
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