Aquatherapy: How Swimming Could be a Key to Better Mental Health

Contributed by: Jane Sandwood

Photo by Chris Kristiansen on Unsplash

While the benefits of swimming for physical health are obvious — strong muscles, better stamina, and improved fitness —- it can also be just as important for mental health, too. In fact, just one hour of exercise a week can protect against depression, a recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows. Low-impact cardio, therapeutic, and fun all-in-one, swimming is one of the best exercises you can do! Make the time to fit swimming into your life and you’ll notice improvements in your mental and physical health.

Reduces anxiety and depression
When you swim — or partake in any exercise — endorphins and serotonin are released in the brain. These are feel-good chemicals which help reduce stress hormones and boost your overall mood and outlook on life. Moreover, swimming can also help reverse brain damage caused by chronic stress — which is often a cited cause of depression. It does this by encouraging the growth of lost neurons responsible for memory and learning.

Healthy body, happy mind
Swimming is great cardio which keeps your muscles, heart, and lungs strong. It’s also a low impact exercise: there’s no unnecessary pressure put on the joints — this is particularly beneficial for those with osteoarthritis or joint problems. Moreover, taking care of your physical health also has emotional benefits. Exercise is proven to boost self-esteem and well-being, particularly when done outside.

Swimming is a great exercise for children, too! Not only does it boost mood and fitness levels, but it also helps develop and refine gross motor skills, like coordination. Of course, safety should always be a priority whether you’re in a residential or public pool. Kids and adults alike should also warm up and cool down to prevent injury and aid recovery.

Swimming is therapeutic
Whether you’re poolside, lakeside, or down by the ocean, just being near water is relaxing. Once you submerge yourself in the soothing water, your worries simply melt away. When you’re swimming, you just need to focus on the rhythm of your breath and repetitive movements, which helps relieve tension. You don’t even have to swim to get mental health benefits; simply float on the water, meditate, and clear your mind.

If you’re not used to swimming, start slow! Make your first swim as short or as long as you like; focus on enjoying yourself and getting used to the exercise. You can gradually build up from there — and you’ll feel all the better for it.