Physical & Mental Benefits of Swimming

As science and technology have advanced, we have come to learn that the advantages of swimming (whether practiced recreationally or competitively), extend far beyond simple pleasure. As a former competitive swim coach, Mike Kotch states that swimming increases muscle strength, enhances cardiovascular fitness, and builds endurance. However, despite the physical benefits, swimming can also improve one’s mental well-being. He takes the time to outline some of the many advantages of the sport.

Mike Kotch’s guide on the mental benefits of swimming

Physical Benefits of Swimming

Any physical activity that raises your heart beat and promotes movement is going to be advantageous for your health. However, while other exercises tend to work specific muscle groups, swimming is a whole-body workout allowing for a wide range of motions. By engaging every part of the body from the arms and legs to the torso and the stomach, swimming is easily one of the most effective and vigorous exercises.

Physical Therapy and Injury Recovery

What makes swimming unique according to Mike Kotch is that despite its vigorous nature and full-body effect, it is also extremely low-impact. For individuals who have suffered an injury, swimming is an effective means to reduce any additional stress on the body. Pool based rehabilitation improves cardiovascular fitness and serves as both a safe and effective workout. Ultimately, the buoyant nature of the water gently supports injured joints.

In short, you do not need to be an expert or a long-time athlete to enjoy the advantages of swimming; its beginner-friendly nature makes it an option even for the elderly, injured, or those with restricted mobility.

Swimming for Mental Health, Depression and Anxiety

It is easy to see the advantages of exercise like swimming on your physical health, but you may not think as much about how swimming can benefit your mental health. While it is true that most physical activities improve mental wellbeing, swimming may be especially effective in working to fight depression and anxiety. One theory is that the repetitive motions utilized in swimming have a calming effect on the brain, much like the impacts observed from activities such as meditation. Swimming requires strokes that have a definite rhythm, which is connected to the release of stress and tension in the body.

Swimming also helps mental health on a more concrete, scientific level. Because water immersion is shown to increase blood flow to the head, it increases the body’s ability to deliver oxygen and glucose to the brain, leading to an increase in mental health.

Mike Kotch and Final Thoughts

While swimming is one of the most purely enjoyable physical activities, it is also a great way to boost both your mental and your physical health. From keeping your heart and lungs healthy and improving circulation to reducing anxiety and depression, there’s endless number of reasons to take a dive into the local pool and do a lap or two.