Why Learning How to Swim Can Help You Through Depression and/or Anxiety
Technology has helped us become smarter and more connected to those around us, but the pressures of constantly staying plugged in and updated have led to an increase in depression and anxiety. The World Health Organization notes that mental health disorders now affect millions across the globe, meaning depression and anxiety have become serious health concerns worldwide.
The good news is that this spike in mental health disorders has prompted many to prioritize their overall health — whether it’s changing their diets or adopting physical exercise in general, it is great for offsetting the effects of depression and anxiety. However, swimming in particular has been found to feel like a meditative practice, which also happens to be a great workout.
The Benefits Start as Soon as You Do
It doesn’t take much for you to get the benefits out of swimming. In fact, swimming for as little as 30 minutes every other day, or at least three times a week, can lead to immediate improvements when it comes to your mental health. Getting into the habit of exercising can also help you sleep better, which in turn will improve your mood. One of the best things about swimming is that it’s easy to pick up; you only need to know a few basic strokes and you can keep practicing from there to improve your technique.
Contributes to a Healthy Brain
The AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology journal found that immersing our bodies in water can increase blood flow to the brain. This increases the brain’s supply of oxygen, glucose, and nutrients that can help boost brain functions. Better clarity, memory, and focus are some of the benefits that come with high brain functions. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience reports that low cognitive brain functions, on the other hand, can lead to faster cognitive decline and dementia.
It’s a Rhythmic Exercise
Many swimmers often find that they lose track of the time and end up swimming for hours. Rhythmic exercises like swimming are called such because you repeat the same movements over and over again until you enter a kind of meditative loop. It’s an activity that allows you to zone out and focus on your movement, and the physical act of swimming (i.e. remembering to take breaths, being aware of your surroundings) still keeps you from getting too absorbed in your thoughts.
Helps Tune Motor Skills
Swimming engages your entire brain. By requiring opposite sides of the body to coordinate movement, you’re facilitating the connection between your brain’s left and right hemisphere. Not only does this bridge cognitive function, it also helps increase learning ability. In line with this, researchers from Maryville University have found links between mental health and learning development, stating that the former can help improve learning success. After all, it’s hard to learn new things when you aren’t in the right mental state, which is why many health practitioners encourage exercises like swimming and running. The best part is that all of this work is happening without you even realizing it, but your brain is getting healthier with each lap that you do.
Fosters Social Connections
Swimming lessons are often taught in groups, and many people even opt for sports like water polo or water volleyball. If you’re looking for some individual guidance, personal trainers are also a great resource. A UVAC member claims that their relationship with their personal trainer has been a huge source of support for them. Spending time with others can help people with depression and anxiety feel less isolated, and having someone look out for your progress — even if it’s just related to swimming — can help you feel like you’re in control of your body and your health.
Article solely for the use of uvacswim.org
Submitted by Alisha Quinn