3 Ways Swimming Helps your Brain
Swimming is one of those sporting activities that involves the use of the entire body and helps you to burn a lot of calories. Additionally, it is easy on the joints, helps to build muscle strength, and efficiently supports your weight. For the brain, in particular, swimming provides a copious amount of benefits that range from improved cognition to combating emotional disorders. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these benefits.
What is Swimming & Why does it Affect the Brain?
According to the Britannica Dictionary, swimming in recreation and sports refers to the propulsion of the body through water by combining arm and leg motions and the natural flotation of the body.
1. Swimming Exercise Improves Short & Long-Term Memories
A study published in 2021 by The Psychological Society states that swimming exercise-induced significant enhancement to the learning phase and memory formation after 7 days of training.
Although the exact way in which swimming improves memory is not known, assumptions have been made by medical experts. They believe swimming stimulates certain structures and the production of protein and other substances within the areas of the brain responsible for memory.
2. Swimming Exercise Improves Cognitive Function
Just like memory improvement, swimming also impacts cognitive function, such as thinking, learning, problem-solving, decision making, and reasoning. Again, scientists aren’t sure how. But they do believe swimming increases a substance known as a neurotrophic factor that circulates within the brain and is instrumental in several cognitive processes.
A study published by The Psychological Society in 2019 evidenced that both acute and regular exercise influence vascular and cognitive function. In the study, ten land-based athletes and eight swimmers completed three cognitive tasks. The research results show that swimming improved cognitive functioning acutely, mostly due to postural effects.
3. Swimming Exercises can Improve Mood
Similar to other exercises or sporting activities, when you swim, it induces the release of endorphins within your brain. Endorphins are feel-good hormones produced naturally and when released, they cause you to feel happy and quite positive. As such, if you are feeling stressed, sad, or just a bit out of the norm, try taking a swim to feel a bit better.
It is assumed that swimming can be an appropriate and efficient form of therapy for mood disorders based on its propensity to improve emotional disposition. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found that swimming exercise improves mood disorders and memory impairment.
Whenever you get the opportunity to have a swim, take it and ensure you do so safely. You’ll be doing your brain an enormous favor.
Mathew, S. (2021, July 27). Swimming gives your brain a boost – but scientists don’t know yet why it’s better than other aerobic activities. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/swimming-gives-your-brain-a-boost-but-scientists-dont-know-yet-why-its-better-than-other-aerobic-activities-164297
swimming | Definition, History, Strokes, & Facts | Britannica. (2021). In Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/sports/swimming-sport
Park, H.-S., Kim, T.-W., Park, S.-S., & Lee, S.-J. (2020). Swimming exercise ameliorates mood disorder and memory impairment by enhancing neurogenesis, serotonin expression, and inhibiting apoptosis in social isolation rats during adolescence. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 16(2), 132–140. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.2040216.108
Alomari, M. A., Alzoubi, K. H., & Khabour, O. F. (2021). Swimming exercise improves short‐ and long‐term memories: Time‐course changes. Physiological Reports, 9(11). https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14851
Shoemaker, L. N., Wilson, L. C., Lucas, S. J. E., Machado, L., Thomas, K. N., & Cotter, J. D. (2019). Swimming‐related effects on cerebrovascular and cognitive function. Physiological Reports, 7(20). https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14247
- Cecilia Arias