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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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      Published on June 7, 2019

      10 Lower Body Workouts Anyone Can Try at Home

      10 Lower Body Workouts Anyone Can Try at Home

      Having a hard time going to the gym? Fear no more!

      In this article, we’ll be breaking down 10 in home lower body workouts anyone can try at home and their exercises. No gear needed for these workouts, just some space and a cup water waiting for your disposal.

      There’re 3 main parts in this article:

      If you’re familiar with the basic lower body exercises, just get into the first section 10 Lower Body Workouts That Can Be Done Anywhere right away.

      If you want more guidance on the basics, check out the second section Lower Body Exercises Breakdown.

      And the last section is about what you should do before and after working out.

      10 Lower Body Workouts That Can Be Done Anywhere

      If you’re familiar with the basic lower body exercises, just read on this section.

      If you’d like to have more guidance on each exercise listed in these 10 workouts, take a look at the following part Lower Body Exercises Breakdown.

      1. The Starter Workout

      3 sets of 8-12 reps of:

      • Squat
      • Single Leg Deadlift
      • Glute Bridge

      (30 sec to 2 min rest in between each set)

      2. The 7 Minute Workout

      3 rounds of 30 seconds of each exercise:

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      • Walking Lunges
      • Quarter Squat
      • Step Up
      • Single Leg Deadlift

      (1 min rest in between each round)

      3. The Unilateral Workout

      4 sets of 16 reps of:

      • Reverse Lunges
      • Single Leg Deadlift
      • Skater Squat
      • Single Leg Glute Bridge

      (30 sec to 1 min rest in between each set)

      4. The Endurance Workout

      2 sets of 20-50 reps of:

      • Squat
      • Walking Lunge
      • Single Leg Deadlift
      • Glute Bridge

      (1-2 min rest in between each set)

      5. The Back To Back Lower Body Workout

      5 rounds of 10 to 20 seconds of each exercise:

      • Skater Squat
      • Step Up
      • Single Leg Deadlift
      • Single Leg Glute Bridge
      • Quarter Squat

      (30 min rest in between each round)

      6. Strength Lower Body Workout

      5 to 10 sets of 4 reps of:

      • Walking Lunge
      • Single Leg Deadlift
      • Squat

      (30 sec to 2 mins of rest time in between set)

      7. Glute Burner Workout

      4 sets of 10-30 reps of:

      • Walking Lunge
      • Single Leg Deadlift
      • Single Leg Glute Bridge
      • Quarter Squat

      (1 min of rest time in between set)

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      8. The Advance Lower Body Workout

      3 rounds of 20 seconds of:

      • Squat
      • Walking Lunge
      • Skater Squat
      • Reverse Lunge
      • Glute Bridge
      • Single Leg Deadlift

      (2 mins of rest time in between set)

      9. The Quick Lower Body Workout

      2 sets of 10 reps of:

      • Reverse Lunge
      • Step Up
      • Single Leg Deadlift

      10. The 100 Repetition Challenge

      2 sets of 50 reps on each leg of:

      • Walking Lunge
      • Single Leg Deadlift

      (4 mins of rest time in between set)

      Lower Body Exercises Breakdown

      Here’s the breakdown of the lower body exercises[1] that you found in the workouts listed in the first section of this article.

      1. Squat

        A squat is a compound movement which entails the recruitment of a majority of your lower body (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, spinal erectors).

        How to squat:

        Feet shoulder width apart or a little wider. Toes pointed slightly out, arms out in front of you. Sit into your heels till you hit parallel with your butt and knee, drive through the heels, return to starting position and repeat.

        2. Walking Lunges

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          A lunge is a complex movement which recruits mainly the lower body.

          The walking lunges are a harder version of a split squat which is stationary and then adds the component of stepping and keeping balance which engages the gluteus medius as well as allowing a larger range of motion.

          3. Reverse Lunge

            A reverse lunge is very similar to the split squat but instead, after every rep, you are returning to the starting position and stepping back.

            By reverse stepping, you are allowing for a better emphasis on the hamstrings and gluteal muscles as opposed to the quadriceps muscles in a forward stepping lunge.

            4. Quarter Squat

              A quarter squat is the top ¼ movement of a squat. This will work mainly the gluteal muscles as it emphasizes the hip extension and not a lot of range of motion on the quadriceps muscles.

              5. Skater Squat

                A skater squat is a unilateral variation of the squat, this squat really engages the gluteus medius and hamstrings as it works unilateral stability and hip flexion which fires both the hamstrings and glutes.

                6. Step Up

                  The Step Up is the greatest balance of getting the glutes and quadriceps muscles firing. Doing Step Ups will not only get the glutes going, but the quadriceps as well.

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                  7. Glute Bridge

                    Glute Bridges are a great way to nearly isolate the glutes and build a great butt. This entire movement works through hip extension which the main movement of the gluteal muscles.

                    8. Single Leg Glute Bridge

                      Single leg glute bridge ensures that we are evenly building the glutes and not relying too heavily on our dominant leg and symmetrical butt. The step up can be done in a chair or a step in the stairs

                      9. Single Leg Deadlift

                        Single Leg RDL’s engage that entire booty and hamstrings, especially the gluteus medius due to its unilateral stability property. This is a great way to spice up some routine deadlifts.

                        Before & After Working Out

                        Before engaging in any physical activity, consult a doctor if you have not worked out in years. However, if you want to go at it without consulting a doctor, start slow and build your way up. Even though it’s home workout, use dynamic stretching or some light jogging[2] as a warm up before starting the lower body workouts.

                        Finally, at the end of the lower body workout, use static stretching to reduce injuries and to calm down your heart rate gradually.

                        Featured photo credit: Gesina Kunkel via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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