The country has experienced one of its hottest years on record this year. So naturally, many Americans would want to visit bodies of water as the temperature rises to escape the oppressive heat currently wreaking havoc on the nation.
Swimming has been shown to be a great substitute for a variety of physical exercises. Swimming guarantees a full body workout, and just 30 minutes of swimming is equivalent to 45 minutes of a full workout on land, claims Swim England. In addition, recreational swimmers can burn up to 400 calories per hour, nearly twice as many as they can while walking for the same amount of time.
Water sports are the ideal form of exercise for people with minor injuries and the elderly because they have less of an impact on the body than walking does. In addition, swimming has been found to have more positive effects on people’s wellbeing.
The Swimming and Health Commission of Swim England discovered in 2017 that regular swimmers have a 28% lower risk of dying prematurely and a 41% lower risk of dying from heart disease and stroke.
The water can help people mentally
According to scientific research, people’s stress responses decrease when they are close to the ocean or any other body of water. Dopamine, the feel-good hormone, is released when you take a cold bath in the water. Additionally, research from the University of Portsmouth in the UK reports that the anti-inflammatory effects of cold water may lessen the propensity for anxiety and depression.
According to Dr. Mark Lieber, being close to the “blue environment” has a transformative impact. “My first thought as I dove under the surface of the water was that I felt a little more buoyant than usual, likely due to the added pounds brought on by quarantine,” he said.
“But as I continued to glide through the water, my initial concern about weight gain was replaced by a feeling of catharsis, as though the water were cleansing me of the stress that had accumulated during the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Stroke after stroke, I could feel my mood lifting, my mind clearing and my body loosening.”
The benefits of swimming for the mind are especially important in the UK, where Swim England found that nearly 500,000 people live with mental health conditions but see doctors less frequently.
A proof that swimming benefits the body and the mind
The founder of Mental Health Swims, Rachel Ashe, is a prime illustration of how water can improve mental health. Ashe turned to running after receiving a mental health diagnosis four years prior because she was determined to help herself. She encountered difficulties along the way, such as slipping on ice during winter runs and found it challenging to maintain her exercise regimen.
Her mental state deteriorated after she stopped running, but she persisted. Instead, Ashe took part in Loony Dook, an annual gathering of swimmers who want to cross Edinburgh, Scotland’s chilly waters. She discovered her new passion here.
“It was very painful, and I didn’t enjoy it. But the very alien feeling of connection with my body after living unhappily in my poorly mind for such a long time was a real epiphany moment for me,” Ashe recalled.
Ashe then began to assemble others, encouraging them to give swimming a try and experience swimming’s benefits for themselves. She also founded Mental Health Swim at this time. Ashe was able to persuade thirty people to join her in just six months; as of right now, the group is up, swimming, and expanding.
“I have learned that my differences are a strength rather than something to be ashamed of,” Ashe said. “I never thought I could do the things I do today.”
“I will always have a mental illness, but I am much better at looking after myself these days. I still have big feelings, but with medication, therapy, outdoor swimming and healthy, happy relationships, I am doing really well.”