Will Swimming Help me Reduce Stress?
In one word, yes.
The simple sounds and sight of a pool has the power to calm the mind. Many of us have very busy work schedules, short or working lunches, early starts and late finishes and a clear blue pool is a welcome visual break from other familiar but mundane sights like the car, a computer screen or the inside of our office. And of course, the sounds produced by a pool, especially if you’re fortunate enough to have a waterfall or fountain, can put us in a tranquil state of mind that is much needed at the end of the day. It can also help to block out some of the sounds of hectic life that surround us like construction noise or traffic.
It’s important to focus attention on our body and physical self, by doing this you allow yourself a break from your mind. This ‘break’ can give your mind time to rest and to gain perspective. Sometimes the best way of looking to solve a problem is to not think about it. By focusing on something other than our minds we allow clear thinking to arrive. Swimming also requires coordination and steady regular breathing. This effort and concentration helps to clear your mind of unwanted and stressful thoughts.
A recent international study commissioned by the world’s leading swimwear brand, Speedo, examined the psychological benefits of regular swimming. It revealed that swimming helps to release stress and tension. The study was undertaken across the USA, Great Britain, France and China, taking in a total of 3,979 respondents. Swimmers aged between 16-45 years of age were interviewed across key markets including swimmers who swim only occasionally to those who swim regularly as part of a vigorous exercise regime.
The results revealed that:
Getting in the pool is the perfect way to unwind after a busy day, with 74% of those surveyed agreeing that swimming helps release stress and tension
Swimming is the ideal ‘feel good’ exercise, with 68% saying that being in the water helps them to feel good about themselves
Over two thirds of those surveyed feel that swimming can have a positive mental impact, with 70% agreeing that it helps them to feel mentally refreshed
On the physiological level, swimming workouts release endorphins which are natural feel-good compounds. It also helps to sop up excess fight-or-flight stress hormones, converting free-floating anxiety into muscle relaxation. It can even promote growth of new brain cells in a part of the brain that has been shown to shrink under the effect of chronic stress. Swimming stimulates brain chemicals that foster the growth of nerve cells, is also affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin that influence mood and produces a stress-reducing hormone, which helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety
A leading sports psychologist Aimee C. Kimball, director of mental health training at the Center for Sports Medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center states “We know, for instance, that vigorous exercise like swimming can significantly decrease both anxiety and depression.”
Then of course there’s the social side of swimming. One of the best (and most calming) aspects of swimming is the socializing you get to enjoy by the pool. Simply lounging around with friends or talking to family members as they splash around in the water can lighten your mood and improve your state of mind.