Are you looking to boost your happiness or raise happier kids? Then it’s time to jump in the pool.
Research shows that exercise—including swimming—typically results in a number of physical, psychological, and emotional benefits. Beyond lowering blood pressure, losing weight, and reducing the risk for heart disease and diabetes, exercise is a boon to your mental health and happiness—and that of your children as well.
Swimming is great for your body and mind, and experts say that it can make you happier. Let’s take a look at why swimming is one of the best exercises for mental health and some of the emotional benefits of exercise.
Swimming can tone and strengthen your muscles—water is denser than air, so moving through it requires more effort—and improves your flexibility in a full-body workout. All this without causing stress to your joints and bones. This low-impact workout can help you reduce and avoid pain, making it easier for beginners, people with injuries, those of advanced age, or anyone dealing with obesity to start exercising. A pain-free workout that anyone can do is enough to bring a smile to your face.
There are a number of psychological benefits of exercise, including increased happiness and a sense of well-being. In fact, getting active is often recommended to those struggling with depression. Why does exercise make you happy? Swimming and other exercises release endorphins, a hormone in your brain that simply makes you feel good. Endorphins are what increase positivity and bring a sense of happiness. Swimming is a great way to help kids get that endorphin release—kids are often excited to go swimming and play in the water, and may be more willing to exercise in the pool than running around a track.
Swimming is, ultimately, a breathing exercise. To become an efficient swimmer, you must master precise and timed breathing. Consciously changing the way you breathe can trigger the brain to promote feelings of calm and reduce the release of stress hormones. Reducing stress is a surefire way to help you feel happier. Additionally, the moist air around the swimming pool water makes it easier to breathe and can reduce asthma symptoms and increase lung volume.
A small study found that being immersed in water increases blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow supplies the brain with more oxygen and nutrients and protects it from harmful toxins. Increased brain health can lead to a better functioning—and happier—brain. Swimming can also encourage the growth of new brain cells.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for mental health because it is calming and relaxing. A line of treadmills, curling heavy weights, or racing around a track can be stimulating and stressful, but immersing yourself in the pool can be calming and feel like an escape into your own world. Just looking at the bright blue water of the swimming pool can help you feel calmer and more peaceful—blue is often considered a calm, soothing color.
Swimming the length of the pool over and over again requires constant, repetitive motion. With your ears in the water for most of the time, the noise of the gym is muffled and you can focus solely on your inner thoughts. This effect is stronger than in other types of exercise such as running or group fitness classes, in which you might listen to music or focus on your surroundings more than your mind. The isolation and repetition of swimming creates a great environment for meditation. Research shows that meditation can promote compassion, self-awareness, and overall happiness.
Sleep is essential to good mental health. Sleeping can help you tune out the negative emotions and can improve your mood all day long. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, people who exercise regularly report better and deeper sleep than those who don’t exercise. Swimming is a great form of exercise to strengthen your muscles and tire yourself out so you are ready for a long, restful, and mood-enhancing sleep.
It’s easy to see why exercise makes you happy! Are you ready to reap the emotional benefits of exercise? Try out one of the best exercises for mental health—sign up for a swimming class at SwimJim today!