These Are the Top Health Benefits of Swimming and Water Play
Summer is here, and so is the heat.
Whether you live near a pool, ocean, pond, river, lake, or kiddie pool…there are many compelling reasons to take a plunge!
Swimming and water play are wonderful ways to cool down and have fun, and they offer myriad health benefits for your brain and body.
What’s more, simply being around water can make you feel good. A concept called “blue mind theory” formulated by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, suggests that just being near, in, on, or under water can make you calmer, healthier, more connected, and happier.
Most of us don’t need someone to tell us about the stress-reducing, mood-enhancing health benefits of water play and swimming because we’ve experienced them firsthand.
But in case you need some extra motivation to treat yourself or your family to some water recreation or relaxation, here are some of the proven health benefits of swimming, sporting, playing, or being in or near water.
6 of the Top Health Benefits of Swimming and Water Play
- It Makes You Feel Good
In our modern lives filled with multiple stresses, whether real or imagined, more of us are experiencing extreme stress and feelings of anxiousness. This can impair brain function, immune health, mood, and overall well-being. It’s important to counter the stress response with calming, mood-boosting activities.
Aerobic exercise, including swimming, is associated with stress reduction, mood enhancement, and better cognition as it increases blood flow to the brain and helps to improve sleep. Restful sleep is important to mood and brain function, too. One study on yoga and swimming found that swimming was associated with mood-boosting benefits in men and women.
It appears that these benefits apply to many water activities. For example, surfers report experiencing a mood lift, often describing the sport as part meditation, part athletic. Indeed, research shows that surfing offers both calming and uplifting effects.
While that can, in part, be attributed to the aerobic workout the sport provides, it also could be a benefit of negative ions, which are abundant in and around ocean waves. Experts believe that negative ions increase the oxygen flow to the brain, which results in greater alertness, less drowsiness, and more mental energy.
Of course, there’s the factor of nature itself. Nature has a powerful impact on humans. Research has found that green environments may increase both self-esteem and mood, and the presence of water creates a more powerful effect.
- Helps Reduce Risk of Major Health Issues
Swimming is a fabulous, low-impact exercise to do regularly. Just 2 ½ hours total per week can decrease your risk of heart health issues, blood sugar problems, and other serious health issues, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also can reduce your risk of death to half that of inactive people.
- Can Help Ease Pain and Improve Joint Health
Swimming and most water exercises (with the exception of high-risk water sports) are gentle on the joints and are associated with pain relief. Research shows that those with muscle and joint pain can exercise longer in water than on land without increased effort or further pain. In fact, improvements in joint health have been noted in studies.
- Beneficial to Aging Adults and the Disabled
Many other forms of exercise are off limits to older adults and those with disabilities, but water activities, even the most basic forms, generally boost physical and mental health and help to improve overall quality of life.
Any increase in movement helps to bring blood and oxygen to the muscles, joints, and brain – and takes away waste with highly sedentary people. With mobility issues, this becomes critically important.
When the brain fails to get enough oxygen it doesn’t work as well. Hence, many areas of health can improve with supervised water exercise. For example, water play has been shown to help maintain bone health in post-menopausal women.
When you need a true break from too much thinking and are experiencing trouble focusing or holding attention, nature is the place to go.
Researchers compared urban and natural environments and found that being in nature, or even looking at pictures of nature, can improve directed-attention abilities. In other words, pausing to look out at a glassy lake, a wind-swept ocean, or even images of tropical beaches can help you recover from mental fatigue and improve concentration.
Other research shows that fluid movement, the kind of movement used while swimming, helps to bolster creativity. So, if you’re creatively fatigued, a swim could help with creative thinking too.
- Social Fun
The best part about water activities is that they’re fun! Whether it’s simple bonding time with the family in a pool or a sports activity – water play is just that, play. It’s no wonder that children almost universally love to be in and around water (of course, kids need close supervision with water play.)
For older kids and adults, there are numerous water activities to enjoy. Learning a new activity is good for your brain since all new learning helps to build new neural networks in the brain, which can improve brain function.
Team sports like competitive swimming, water polo, rowing, or sailing can become lifelong passions or hobbies and create lasting social bonds. Water activities can encourage the adventurer in you to come out to play with sports like river rafting, outrigger canoeing, standup paddleboarding, kayaking, kite surfing, and more.
Gaze or Get Wet
During these times of elevated stress and temperatures, go to the water! Whether you’re gazing or getting wet, you’ll most likely feel refreshed and happier.
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
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