How Swimming Can Affect Your Mental Health

How Swimming Can Affect Your Mental Health

It’s no secret that owning a swimming pool can afford you several benefits. A pool can significantly increase your home’s value, transform your regular backyard into a vibrant, aesthetic space, and provide endless summer fun and healthy, low-impact exercise for your whole family. But there’s one advantage to owning a swimming pool that many people aren’t aware of, and this particular perk can benefit you every time you take a dip. What is it?

A swimming pool — specifically, swimming in a pool — can help you improve your mental health. Read on to find out how.

Swimming Can Help Reduce Stress

Swimming is, by its very nature, an almost meditative activity. Focusing on the rhythm of your limbs moving methodically through the water can have a remarkably relaxing effect on your mind. Focusing on your rhythmic breathing between strokes has a similar effect.

Research has also demonstrated time and time again that prolonged physical activity — even when performed at a gentle pace — is linked to improved mood and lower psychological stress levels. According to researchers, warm water tends to be particularly soothing, with many regular swimmers reporting that a dip in a warm pool feels a lot like getting a warm hug.

Studies performed on rats have also shown that swimming can induce new cell growth in areas of the brain that have deteriorated as a result of chronic stress. Research into this particular mental health benefit of swimming is still limited. However, researchers believe this phenomenon may be able to help people process stress in a healthier way.

Swimming Increases Production of “Feel Good” Brain Chemicals

Swimming, like other forms of prolonged exercise, causes the brain to release endorphins. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals that interact with receptors in the brain to reduce feelings of pain while simultaneously boosting feelings of pleasure. Swimming also increases the brain’s production of serotonin, the “happy” hormone that has positive effects on mood.

Swimming Can Boost Brain Health

In addition to its effects on endorphin and serotonin production, swimming also increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein, which some researchers call “Miracle Grow for the brain” is responsible for maintaining and growing neurons and promoting their survival.

While all forms of exercise increase BDNF levels to some degree, animal research has found that swimming is particularly beneficial for boosting BDNF. And the more BDNF there is circulating around in the brain, the better the brain works overall, which leads to improvements in mental health as well as a boost in cognitive function.

Scientists are even looking into boosting BDNF levels as a potential solution for mitigating cognitive decline, slowing the progression of dementia, and slowing or even preventing the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Swimming Boosts Blood Flow to the Brain

Research has demonstrated that immersing the body in water up to the level of the heart can be great for brain health. Water immersion can increase blood flow to the brain’s middle cerebral artery and posterior cerebral artery by up to 14% and 9%, respectively.

This increased blood circulation positively impacts several areas of the brain — including the amygdala, hippocampus, and limbic system — all of which play roles in regulating mood, stress levels, and motivation.

Swimming Can Improve Sleep Quality

Getting adequate shut-eye is crucial for maintaining a healthy brain and good mental health. But in our frenetic world, falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting the recommended seven to nine hours of snooze time per night can be tough. That’s where swimming can help.

Researchers don’t fully understand how moderate aerobic exercise (like swimming) helps boost sleep quality, but they do know it increases the amount of slow-wave sleep a person gets. Slow-wave sleep, which is the deepest sleep stage, allows both the brain and body an opportunity to rejuvenate themselves.

During the deepest sleep stages, the brain washes itself with cerebrospinal fluid to flush out toxic waste products that accumulate during the day. Deep, slow-wave sleep is the only time during which this process can occur. Scientists believe this “deep cleaning” of the brain helps protect healthy neurons, thereby improving decision-making capacity, mood regulation, and several other aspects of psychological and overall brain health.

Basically, the more regularly a person swims, the better they’ll sleep, and the better their brain will function overall.Want to experience the mental health benefits of regular swim sessions for yourself? Upgrade your Dallas property with a custom-built swimming pool. And when it’s time to install or update your pool equipment or resurface your pool, contact Select Pool Services. To discuss your swimming pool project or get a free quote, feel free to contact us online or give us a call today at 214-755-7665.

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