Swimming to better mental health

Swimming to better mental health 
By: Marlee Moore

We have all been through a lot during the last few years and one that continues to make headlines is our mental health. May was Mental Health awareness month, and the difficult truth is nearly one in five Canadians live with a mental health illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Now is a good time to pause and reflect on what we can do for ourselves to decrease our chances of mental illness and improve our overall quality of life. One excellent way to not only increase your physical health but mental health is: swimming.  

While the benefits of swimming for physical health are obvious, strong muscles, better stamina, and improved fitness. It can also be just as important for mental health, too. In fact, just one hour of exercise a week can protect against depression, a recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows. 

Reduces anxiety and depression 
When you swim or partake in any exercise, endorphins and serotonin are released in the brain. These are feel-good chemicals which help reduce stress hormones and boost your overall mood and outlook on life. Moreover, swimming can also help reverse brain damage caused by chronic stress which is often a cited cause of depression. It does this by encouraging the growth of lost neurons responsible for memory and learning. 

Healthy body, happy mind 
Swimming is great cardio which keeps your muscles, heart, and lungs strong. It’s also a low impact exercise: there’s no unnecessary pressure put on the joints, this is particularly beneficial for those with osteoarthritis or joint problems. Moreover, taking care of your physical health also has emotional benefits. Exercise is proven to boost self-esteem and well-being. 

Swimming is therapeutic 
Whether you’re poolside or by the lake, just being near water is relaxing. Once you submerge yourself in the soothing water, your worries simply melt away. When you’re swimming, you just need to focus on the rhythm of your breath and repetitive movements, which helps relieve tension. You don’t even have to swim to get mental health benefits; simply float on the water, meditate, and clear your mind. 

If you’re not used to swimming, start slow! Make your first swim as short or as long as you like; focus on enjoying yourself and getting used to the exercise. You can gradually build up from there and you’ll feel all the better for it. 

Low-impact cardio, therapy and fun all-in-one - swimming is one of the best exercises you can do! Make the time to fit swimming into your life and you’ll notice improvements in your mental and physical health. If you would like to learn more about swimming and how aquatic therapy can help or benefit you, check out our webpage at www.proactiverehab.com/services/aquatherapy.   Contact us at (705) 788-1480 to answer questions or to book your aquatic therapy session.  You too can feel the physical and psychological benefits of the water! 

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