It is well documented that aerobic exercise releases endorphins and helps to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Did you know that swimming may be one of the most effective exercises at not only improving your physical health, but your mental health as well? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranks all “water- based exercises” at the top of the list of exercises known to improve mental health in both men and women.
At FitClub, it’s a complete mind body wellness experience, so before you craft your next workout, lets dive into the mental health benefits unique to swimming.
- Stretch and relaxation of muscles. Swimming requires participants to alternate between stretching a muscle (think reaching in front of you for a freestyle stroke) and relaxing that same muscle (pulling your arm back to your side). The alternating stretching and relaxing combined with the rhythmic side to side breath mimics the practice of yoga. Not only are you allowing yourself a great cardiovascular workout with little to no impact on your joints, but you are reaping the mental health benefits of a yoga practice at the same time.
- Meditative Exercise. The practice of meditation is centered on focusing on and being mindful of your breath. Swimming forces you to focus on your breath, particularly when and to which side to breathe, in a way that other cardiovascular exercise does not.
To get the most out of the meditative experience when you swim, try repeating a simple one word mantra to yourself when you take a stroke. A word as simple as “relax” can help you to eliminate distracting thoughts and stay fully present with your body in the water. In addition to the meditative qualities, the reduced noise and lack of complexity makes swimming a particularly good exercise for people that struggle with the anxiety of a distracted mind or for children and adults that have been diagnosed with ADHD. ADDitude Magazine chose swimming as the exercise most beneficial to those with the diagnosis and proudly remind us all that the decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps, struggled with ADHD as a child—until he took to the water to manage his symptoms!
- Increased blood flow to your brain. A study done by “Journal of Physiology” found that swimming or water-based exercises can increase the blood flow to your brain by up to fourteen percent. The next time you find yourself struggling to answer a difficult question or resolve a complicated problem, try spending an hour in the pool to see whether the answer comes more easily.
FitClub’s aquatic exercise schedule makes it simple and convenient to get started with a water-based exercise program today! Our swim lessons and water-based group exercise make this the perfect time to dive into better physical and mental health!