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How Swimming Changes Your Brain And Makes You Mentally Healthier

How Swimming Changes Your Brain And Makes You Mentally Healthier

We all know how relaxing a good swim can be. It allows more oxygen to flow to the muscles and forces you to regulate your breathing. Swimming is also a great way to reduce stress. Swimming underwater is like being in another world. The water distorts the sky above, casting the sun’s reflection into an almost ethereal pattern on the bottom of the pool. It’s no wonder swimming can put you into an ideal mental space.

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    How does the brain react while swimming?

    Swimming is a meditative exercise. Your brain function improves via a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis, where your brain replaces lost cells resulting from stress. When you hit the water, your mood is lifted immediately from the coolness of the water, leaving you free from tiredness and depression.

    A recent study by Dr. Howard Carter of University of Western Australia, School of Sport Science shows how the brain reacts during swimming. The team of scientists, led by Carter , hypothesized that water immersion to the level of the right atrium in the heart would increase the delivery of blood within the brain. The right atrium is located on the upper right hand side of the heart and is one of four hollow chambers of the heart. The right atrium receives blood from two large veins: the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. The job of both of these veins is to return blood that has provided oxygen to various sites in the body; the returning blood, then, is low in oxygen. The coronary sinus, which is a smaller vein in the wall of the heart, also drains blood into the right atrium.

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    We found that brain blood flow is higher when subjects were immersed in water up to the level of the heart compared to on land — laying the ground work for further investigation of its effects on cerebrovascular health,” said Dr. Howard Carter in The American Journal of Physiology.

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      While the participants were immersed in water, blood flow to their middle cerebral arteries increased by 14 percent while blood flow to their posterior cerebral arteries increased by nine percent.

      “As with land-based exercise, different types of water-based activities, such as water aerobics and swimming, have slightly different effects on heart function and cerebral blood flow,” said Carter.

      Moreover, swimming can improve your mental well-being…

      • It can help you to shut out external stimuli: Once you immerse yourself into the water, outside sounds are cut off. The only thing you feel is the water against your skin. You focus on your breathing, the bottom of the pool, and the ease of the water. Things are simplified when you’re swimming. It’s a form of moving mediation.
      • It’s a great form of low impact exercise: Gliding through the water gets your heart pumping. It’s also great for your muscles and lungs, as well as having low impact on your joints. When you take care of your body, your emotional well-being is greatly improved. Swimming a few times a week is a great way to exercise and improve your mood.
      • It releases endorphins: A good swim workout releases natural feel good compounds called endorphins. It can also convert excess fight-or-flight stress hormones into muscle relaxation. New brain cell growth is promoted as a result of releasing the stress.

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      Melissa Atkinson

      Freelance writer

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      Last Updated on September 29, 2020

      Does Keto Weight Loss Diet Plan Actually Work?

      Does Keto Weight Loss Diet Plan Actually Work?

      In the past few years, more and more people have started to suffer from obesity, with associated heart and metabolic problems. If you are struggling to keep your weight under control, you are also probably worrying about additional problems such as hypertension and diabetes.

      People who fight weight gain have indeed a genetic predisposition, but they also need to make a few lifestyle changes, especially with regard to their lifestyle and caloric intake. It has been demonstrated that regular physical activity, as well as dietary habits can promote weight loss and allow one to maintain the same weight on a regular basis.

      In this article, we will look into the commonly known keto weight loss diet and explain to you whether it works or not.

      What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

      The ketogenic diet has been presented as one of the most effective approaches for quick weight loss.[1] Indeed, this nutritional approach has a solid basis, allowing one to lose excess pounds and return to a healthy figure. And as you will see for yourself, it can even improve cardiovascular health.

      The main idea behind this diet is to drastically reduce the carb intake, so the body begins to use the ketone bodies produced by the liver as energy. As the glucose levels decrease and the fuel for the body changes, significant weight loss will occur.

      This condition was first noticed in individuals who were fasting; at the beginning, the ketogenic diet was used for those who suffered from epilepsy. It was only recently that researchers began to recommend it for weight loss purposes.

      Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

      It has been confirmed that this dietary approach can help one fight obesity, as well as high cholesterol levels. It can improve cardiovascular risk factors, protecting one against stroke and atherosclerosis.

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      You might not be aware of this for a fact but the ketogenic diet can suppress the appetite. This is related to the fact that one consumes more proteins, which have a higher satiety effect.

      It is also worth mentioning that such changes can keep the appetite control hormones in check. Proteins have a thermal effect, contributing to the activation of the metabolism.

      Ketone bodies cause a number of changes within the body, contributing to the suppression of the appetite in a direct manner. They prevent the body from storing fat, while activating the metabolism and promoting the fat-burning process. Thus, one experiences a higher metabolic efficiency, consuming more calories in the process.

      When formulating the best diet plan, you have to consider the ketogenic diet among your first options.[2] Keep in mind that this diet can help you lose excess weight and offer a wide range of other benefits.

      For example, the ketone bodies produced in the liver can provide protection against cognitive impairment (associated with weight gain and obesity in general). The dietary approach can reduce the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

      It can even be of use to those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and it facilitates recovery in patients diagnosed with brain injuries. The ketogenic diet does wonders for those with polycystic ovary syndrome and acne; this is related to the reduction in insulin levels.

      The Physiological Changes Associated with This Diet

      What happens is that, upon reducing the carb intake, a metabolic condition known as physiological ketosis occurs.[3] This is when the body runs out of glucose, using ketone bodies (resulted through ketogenesis). When these began to be used as energy, weight loss occurs as a natural consequence.

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      As the glycemic level begins to stabilize, the weight loss process occurs. The risk of metabolic syndrome is reduced, which increases the life expectancy for the person in question. The bad cholesterol level is reduced and so is the one of triglycerides (associated risk of cardiovascular disease).

      The metabolic rate is altered and physiological changes occur. While the lean body mass is preserved, the fat mass begins to be consumed and weight loss is no longer difficult. Interestingly, all of these changes do not have a negative effect on the metabolism of glucose (eliminating of insulin resistance).

      What Happens When You Consume Carbs in High Quantities

      Unfortunately, the modern diet is associated with a high consumption of carbs. The rates of obesity have increased only in the past few years, when more and more people have fallen prey into the trap of carbs.

      The excessive intake of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and obesity in most cases. A diet rich in carbs has a negative influence on the insulin resistance. Moreover, it increases glucose levels and reduces the level of good cholesterol.

      All of these changes translate into a higher risk of diabetes and heart problems, as the metabolism is disturbed.

      How It Feels to Follow the Keto Approach

      The reduction of carb intake, associated with a higher consumption of proteins, has proven to be quite beneficial (both physically and mentally). The sensation of lethargy, normally caused by the increased carb intake, disappears and the mood improves.

      At the beginning, one might have difficulties reducing the carb intake. However, as the body accustoms to these dietary changes, the sensation of hunger disappears and one is less tempted to give into cravings. As the fat metabolism is improved, one begins to notice the weight difference and feel better overall.

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      Tips for Successful Weight Loss

      When it comes to weight loss tips to remember, this is the most important one:[4]

      You need to make sure that your daily carb intake does not exceed 20 grams, regardless of how much fat or proteins you plan on consuming that day. The intake of carbs should not be influenced by the total caloric intake.

      The transition from your regular diet to the ketogenic approach should not take place all of a sudden. You need to take a gradual approach, so that your body has the necessary amount of time to adapt to the new diet.

      In order to facilitate this transition, you can opt for meals that mimic regular, carb-rich foods. These will help you stay on the diet and achieve your weight loss goals, without too much effort.

      What Foods Are Allowed to Eat?

      If you have decided to go on the ketogenic diet, you need to up your protein intake. You are allowed to consume lean meat, such chicken, eggs and dairy products, such as full-fat cheese. Fatty fish, such as tuna and sardines, as well as seafood is allowed.

      You can also consume olive oil and flax seed oil as these deliver beneficial fats to the body. Vegetables such as spinach, cucumber, lettuce, celery, cauliflower, eggplants and carrots are allowed. As for fruits, you can consume berries of various kinds, citrus fruits, tomatoes and avocados.

      Do not be afraid to consume olive oil of good quality as this is one of the best food products for someone who is on a weight loss diet. In the Mediterranean area, olive oil is eaten in generous quantities and the people here do not suffer from obesity (also have a reduced risk of heart problems).

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      What Foods Are Restricted?

      Simply put, you need to drastically reduce the carb intake. This means that you should eat white flour products, potatoes and pasta as little as possible. The same goes for bread and rice.

      It is important to be aware of the fact that carbs are found in other food products, especially in sweets. Stay away from sweets, cakes and other similar items that are rich in sugar. Of course, fruit juices and soft drinks are on the no list.

      The Truth: Does the Ketogenic Diet Actually Promote Weight Loss?

      In the introduction, we have talked about obesity and the risks associated with weight gain. The ketogenic diet can reverse such changes, allowing one to keep the hunger sensation under control and reduce the intake of food.

      Proteins are a big part of this dietary approach, offering a prolonged satiety sensation. On the other hand, both carbs and fat are less filling, causing one to feel hungry quicker.

      As one begins to consume more proteins, the sensation of hunger appears at longer intervals. The ketogenic diet will not cause one to feel hungry all the time, presented a higher success rate than other dietary approaches.

      As the carb intake is reduced to the lowest possible level, the ketogenic state will occur and the body will no longer rely on glucose for fuel. The ketone bodies produced in the liver, from the fat reserves, will act as fuel.

      It is important to understand that the body needs time to adapt to the state of ketosis. You need to pursue the dietary approach and not be satisfied with the initial weight loss, which is due to the diuresis process. Soon, you will see that your body has begun to burn fat efficiently, allowing you to return to a healthy figure.

      The ketogenic diet presents a number of advantages, starting with the fact that you have plenty of allowed foods to organize your daily meals. Moreover, you can follow this diet, without having to count calories or keep track of how much food you have eaten.

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      Featured photo credit: Khamkhor via unsplash.com

      Reference

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