If you're looking for a way to stay mentally sharp, consider this: swimming may be one of, if not the best exercise for your brain. You no doubt know of the physical benefits of swimming: increased endurance, cardiovascular health and a toned physique. What you may not realize, however, is that science is discovering how swimming uniquely affects the brain. Some studies indicate that the brain responds differently to swimming than perhaps any other type of exercise. If you make swimming a part of your regular routine, you may enjoy better focus, mood, and a jolt of mental energy.
The Benefits Of Swimming For Your Brain
Swimming May Help Circulate Blood To The Brain — If you’re looking for a natural way to increase brain power, then aerobic exercise is a great place to start. All types of aerobic exercise (including swimming) boost blood flow to brain, which can aid memory, clarity, and emotional well-being. However, one study argues that exercising in water actually delivers more blood to the brain than working out on dry land. According to a report by the University of Western Australia, being immersed in water up to the heart level (right atrium) increases blood flow by up to 14%. The study, which surveyed a group of healthy young men, found that cerebral blood flow was noticeably higher when the participants had been in the water than when they had not. The next time you want a jolt of mental energy, try taking a few laps in the pool. You might find that it gives you significant boost.
Swimming May Help Your Mood — It has been said by some that swimming is a form of meditation. When you’re immersed in the pool, you can enter a flow state where your mind is shut off from noises outside. Similar to other meditative practices, swimming also forces you to focus on your breathing. The overall effect of swimming may have powerful mood-boosting properties as well. Swimming aids in the release of neurotrophic factors (endorphins), which support pain relief and a sense of well-being. According to a survey of nearly 4,000 swimmers across the globe, 70% reported that swimming leaves them feeling ‘mentally refreshed.’ If you are struggling with mood and looking for a way to mentally reset, swimming could be a powerful way to help raise your emotional state.
Swimming May Help You Sleep — One of the surprising potential benefits of swimming is how it may help you sleep. If you struggle with getting a good night’s rest or nonrestorative sleep, swimming could be of benefit to you. Although any kind of regular aerobic exercise may benefit sleep, swimming has a calming effect on the mind and body, which can promote a sense of relaxation post-workout. A survey conducted by research firm Ipso Mori concluded that 74% of regular swimmers say that it relieves tension and stress, and 68% consider it the ideal ‘feel-good’ exercise. Simply being in the water can have a relaxing effect on the mind, and eliminating stress could lead to deeper more restorative sleep.
One Of The Best All-Around Exercises — If you’re looking for further inspiration to jump in the pool, think about this: swimming is one of the best all-around exercises for your mind and body. Not only can regular swimming improve your appearance (think Michael Phelps), it’s also an exercise that you can do even into old age. Because swimming is a whole-body exercise that’s easy on the joints, it’s a routine that you can keep up well into your senior years.
If brain health is especially important to you, then check out this article by Procera Health. You can also keep reading in our Health Solutions section for more ideas and inspiration. In our resource center, we have several articles that will help you learn measures you can take to naturally increase your brain power.