Feel the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming
‘You don’t always appreciate what you have until it’s gone’, as the old saying goes, and the millions of people who had to go without their regular swim during lockdown will certainly understand that feeling.
The overwhelming sense of delight and relief when the pools reopened in April demonstrated how important swimming is to many people’s lifestyle, offering a wide range of both physical and mental health benefits.
The physical benefits are obvious – swimming offers a full-body workout and uses all your muscles, no matter what stroke you employ, and the resistance provided by the water means your body works harder than it would on land. It is also a great way to stay active if you are recovering from injury or illness thanks to the buoyancy of the water supporting your body.
Swimming can also have a massive impact on your mental health too. Just being active on a regular basis has been shown to improve your mood, increase your self-esteem, boost your energy levels and contribute to better sleep.
But taking a dip in the pool is also a great way to de-stress and relax, with the repetitive, rhythmic nature of swimming and the focus on breathing offering similar meditative qualities to yoga.
You don’t have to be an Olympian or Paralympian to feel the benefits – just taking time out of a busy day to do a few lengths of gentle breaststroke provides the perfect opportunity to refocus, refresh and enjoy the endorphin rush that exercise provides.
In 2017 Swim England commissioned major new research into the health benefits of swimming. The Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Swimming report is an independent study that fully explores the impact of swimming on physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Key findings from the report
The report highlights the enormous potential swimming and aquatic activity has to support the health of the population due to its popularity and accessibility across the lifetime.
The unique properties of water make swimming perfect for people of all ages to exercise, particularly those with injuries, impairments, long term health conditions, or those who struggle to exercise on land.
The report found evidence that swimmers live longer, that regular swimming helps older people stay mentally and physically fit, and participation in swimming lessons can help children to develop physical, cognitive and social skills quicker.
Swimming has a positive impact on a range of physical and mental health conditions including obesity, cancer, cerebral palsy, and pulmonary disease.
There is increasing evidence that swimming is a cost-effective activity that will help to save the National Health Service money.
Aquatic activity not only helps develop aerobic fitness, but is also good for the development of strength and balance which are key components of the CMO guidelines for health.
There is emerging evidence on the contribution of swimming to support the healthy development of children, and how this can contribute to their physical, mental and social skills.