Like most aerobic activities, swimming has many physical benefits including increased endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. However, swimming also offers several mental benefits to the athlete that make it an excellent workout for both the mind and body. Here are 6 of the many benefits you can get from swimming as your chosen sport:
1. Low Impact – Swimming is a unique form of exercise because it allows the athlete to reap the health and fitness benefits of aerobic, anaerobic, and resistance training without putting high amounts of stress on the joints and bones. This makes swimming an especially valuable form of exercise for people with disabilities, recovering from injuries, or who have various medical conditions, such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
2. Excellent Cross Training – Along with decreasing blood pressure and heart rate, consistent swimming leads to increased tidal volume (the amount of air that moves in and out of the lungs during normal respirations), making it excellent cross training for runners, bikers, gymnasts, soccer players, and more (CITE swimswam). In fact, a study by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine in Science and Sports found that swimming with controlled breathing resulted in a 6% improvement in running performance after only twelve sessions (Lavin, Guenette, Smoliga, & Zavorsky; 2013).
3. Heightening Cognitive Functioning – Levels of a neurotrophin called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), are increased through high-intensity activities like swimming. BDNF is crucial to the proper functioning of the brain and peripheral nervous system by playing an essential role in the maintenance of neurons, neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and supporting cognitive functioning. Low levels of BDNF are correlated with Alzheimer’s disease, poor neural development, depression, and neurotransmitter dysfunction (CITE).
4. Vitamin D – The outdoor pools like the beautiful 50-meter Olympic pool and 25-meter pool at Thanyapura gives swimmers great exposure to the tropical sun. Increasing time in the sun has also been shown to elevate BDNF levels (CITE), increase bone strength by inducing calcium deposition, elevated muscle functioning (CITE bodybuilding), and not to mention, give swimmers a great tan while they cool off!
5. Anxiety and Stress Management – Studies have shown that swimming significantly reduces anxiety on a level comparable to practicing yoga (CITE). It also reduces sensitivity to stress and most find the repetition and silence of swimming quite relaxing.
6. Antidepressant – Swimming also plays a multifaceted role as an antidepressant. Group classes provide a social experience for participants, while also giving them an uplifting sense of accomplishment upon completing a difficult set. Additionally, endorphins and neurotransmitters like serotonin, are released during long-term cardio exercise. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, but raising these levels enhances mood and social behaviour (CITE).
Practice all the methods of increasing BDNF with us right here in the tropical paradise of Phuket. Swim at our beautiful outdoor 25 and 50 meter pools where you can enjoy tropical sunshine which provide Vitamin D, and not to mention great tans while providing an escape from the heat! A healthy diet low in refined sugar and saturated fats is available with culinary flare right here at our DiVine restaurant as well as the Booster Bar.
See you in paradise!
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About the Author
Pierre Gagnon practised concentration and insight meditation intensively from 2010 to 2012, then went on to study meditation at Wat Suan Mokkh with the venerable Ajahn Po from 2013 to 2015. As well as his own practice, he has coordinated meditation retreats in the south of Thailand which were attended by more than 1,000 people.
Having a great passion in the field of neuroscience, he likes to integrate these concepts into meditation practice. He believes that much of our life is lived resisting and defending against internal and external experiences that people perceive as threats. Through the development of concentration and meditation, we can insightfully see that all experiences are harmless and there is no need to defend of contract around them. Pierre has experience coordinating concentration and insight meditation retreats, teaching the relationship that exists between Buddhism and neuroscience.