Swimming is one of the best physical activities as it provides cardiovascular, flexibility and strengthening benefits. However, it can also help with your mental well-being and cognitive function. Learning more about these benefits will help you to see why incorporating swimming into your physical activity routine is something you should consider.
1- Improved Blood Flow to Your Brain
Swimming helps to improve blood flow throughout your entire body. As the heart pumps out more blood, this helps to provide brain cells with more essential nutrients and oxygen. Cognitive processes get better support from the increase in oxygen helping to improve attention, memory and problem solving.
Swimming might also promote neurovascular coupling. This is a phenomenon characterized by enhanced neural activity due to an improvement in blood flow. The phenomenon has been linked to better cognitive performance.
2- Cognitive Flexibility and Neuroplasticity
The brain’s ability to form new neural connections and reorganize itself is neuroplasticity. Swimming promotes this due to engaging different areas of your brain. It aids with improved memory, learning and cognitive flexibility.
Being able to think creativity, adapt to changing situations and shift between a variety of tasks is cognitive flexibility. Swimming in a pool helps to promote this by requiring multi-dimensional movements. Since swimming combines mental coordination and physical effort, it also helps to contribute to better memory.
3- Mental Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Swimming triggers an endorphin release, and these chemicals are natural stress relievers. This helps to promote a positive mood and reduces feelings of anxiety. Since stress can negatively impact cognitive function and memory, decreasing it can improve both of these.
Swimming allows for meditation in motion. It is repetitive and rhythmic which helps to promote relaxation and soothe you, and this contributes to greater mental clarity.
Swimming regularly can help to promote better sleep quality. This translates to reduced stress, improved memory consolidation, enhanced cognitive function and better overall brain health.
4- Cognitive Simulation from Social Interaction
Swimming is an activity that can promote social interaction. For example, swimming with friends or engaging in other water activities, such as water aerobics. Positive social interactions have been shown to stimulate cognitive function and promote better overall well-being. Other water-based activities could further enhance your cognitive function since they often require strategy, coordination and teamwork. Such activities could also help with your decision making and problem-solving skills.
5- Neurotransmitter Stimulation
Swimming can help to increase the levels of dopamine in your brain. This is a neurotransmitter that is vital for reward, motivation and pleasure. When your dopamine levels are elevated, it can enhance your focus, motivation and cognitive function, as well as enhance your mood.
The physicality of swimming stimulates a serotonin release. This neurotransmitter helps to decrease anxiety and depression symptoms when it is elevated to promote better cognitive health.
Swimming even just a couple days a week will help you to reap the benefits. If you are new to exercising, make sure to talk to your doctor first. They can also help you to develop a swimming regimen that works with your unique physical activity needs.