It’s no secret that aerobic exercise is good for your mental health. Swimming, however, seems to be one of the most beneficial options.
Not only does it release endorphins, but it also encourages hippocampal neurogenesis. That’s just a fancy term for “the growth of new brain cells in a part of the brain that atrophies under chronic stress,” explains this Huffington Post article. Some psychotherapists, like Moby Coquillard of California, are prescribing swimming as part of a patient’s treatment plan. In many cases, exercise can be an alternative to medication.
Exercise in general increases blood flow, but in this Australian study it is found that there’s a connection between warm water immersion and increased blood flow. More blood flow means more nutrients for the brain which means a better functioning mind. Who wouldn’t want that?
Swimming is beneficial in similar ways to yoga. They both involve stretching your muscles and developing a rhythmic breathing pattern which can release mental, emotional and physical stress. Plus, because swimming is so repetitive, it’s highly meditative – just like yoga. So, if you can’t make it to a yoga class, go for a swim instead. You won’t sacrifice any of the benefits.
Next steps? When you’re planning your summer activities, try to schedule a few more visits to the pool.