As a sport, swimming naturally comes with many physical health benefits. These include promoting good cardiovascular fitness, strengthening muscles, and building endurance. What you may not realize is that swimming does more than impact your body. Exercise and physically challenging yourself can result in benefits for your mind and mental health as well.
Why is Your Mental Health Important?
Mental health is just as important as physical health. It encompasses your psychological, emotional, and social well-being and affects how you think, feel, and act. A vast portion of decision-making, stress management, and social interactions hinge on your overall mental health.
Having poor mental health can drastically alter how you react and cope with everyday life. It can affect your health in the same way a physical illness would.
Mental health problems can manifest differently, depending on several factors, such as a person’s past and the environments they’re raised in. These characteristics make dealing with mental health a delicate matter, often a process of trial and error and constant observation.
Swimming and Mental Health
So, how do swimming and physical activity tie into your mental health? Here are some of the mental health benefits of swimming regularly.
Makes You Happier and Stress-Free
Swimming, like any form of exercise, causes your brain to release endorphins, giving you that feeling of happiness. Endorphins are hormones that are usually released as a response to stress or pain, a coping mechanism that allows you to calm yourself and find joy even in hardship. Together with the receptors in your brain, endorphins reduce the perception of pain.
When endorphins are released, they lessen the amount of cortisol, or the stress hormone, in your body. Their release during physical activity is why swimming makes for an effective stress reliever. Endorphins give you that sense of happiness and boost your overall positivity and well-being.
Boosts Your Brain Health
One way to keep your brain healthy is to ensure that your blood flow is good. A study shows that being in water can help increase the blood flow in your brain. In addition to that, being in the water can improve your mood, sharpen your memory, and increase your focus.
Allows You to Sleep Better
Getting enough sleep is integral to mental health. A well-rested mind is less prone to depression, anxiety, and stress. It also lets you function properly as you can better process emotional information. In addition, engaging in swimming as exercise can give you a full-body workout that lessens your stress to help you sleep better.
Improves Your Social Activity
Group swim lessons provide opportunities to engage with others in the water. Socializing with others is a great way to improve your overall well-being and mood. Leisure sports and activities like swimming can become avenues to meet new people and forge friendships that go beyond just swimming.
Decreases Anxiety and Depression
A review of multiple studies has shown that swimming can profoundly affect your mental health, particularly depression. Mental health is significantly impacted by exposure to water-based activities such as swimming. The study’s participants displayed a reduced need for depressive medication in favor of continuous swimming activity.
Tips for Swimmers Struggling with their Mental Health
Stick to Your Own Pace
Everyone works at a different pace, and the same applies to swimming. Don’t feel pressured to swim the same amount of hours as friends or peers or feel the need to match them immediately at their skill level.
Instead, you can start slowly and build your swimming skills at a pace that works for you and your specific needs. Building that habit of swimming comes in small increments, so consistency is more important than the hours you put in.
Find a Swimming Buddy or Group
Starting a new hobby or habit can be scary, especially if you’re unfamiliar with it. There’s no better way to keep yourself accountable than by having a swimming buddy or someone that you trust help monitor your progress. By signing up for lessons at Bear Paddle, you will be in a consistent lesson with the same teacher and kids weekly.
Know Your Triggers
For some people, it can be large crowds. For others, it can be loud noise. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to be aware of the triggers or situations that make you uncomfortable and adjust your swimming routines accordingly. Bear Paddle offers small class sizes with personalized attention to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
Engage and Relax Your Mind Through Swimming
Swimming is the perfect activity to engage your body and mind. Reap the benefits by enrolling in a weekly swim lesson at Bear Paddle and have fun while learning how to swim.
Check out the Bear Paddle blog for more information on the benefits of swimming.