Wellness Wednesday: How Exercise Such as Swimming Connects Mental and Physical Health


Wellness Wednesday: How Exercise Such as Swimming Connects Mental and Physical Health

Exercise is known to build muscle, endurance, and increase overall physical health. What many people forget, however, is the mental benefit that daily exercise can have. Even movement as simple as going for a short walk or doing a few pushups can result in an immediate decrease of symptoms associated with conditions such as anxiety or depression. It can be argued, in fact, that exercise is truly the best medicine for these illnesses.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that more than one in five American adults currently suffer from a mental illness. An even more frightening statistic from this source shows that an estimated 49.5% of American adolescents also fall into this category. This staggering percentage can be contributed in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, which through lives into turmoil around the world.

While exercise may not truly be “the best” medicine out there, it is a great option for people looking to improve their mental health. In an article from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is stated: “Physical activity has many well-established mental health benefits. These are published in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and include improved brain health and cognitive function (the ability to think, if you will), a reduced risk of anxiety and depression, and improved sleep and overall quality of life”.

Exercise can also trigger the release of endorphins, which are hormones that lead to feelings of mood-boosting. In fact, research states that the feelings caused by endorphins mimic those of morphine, a prescription medication used to treat severe pain. If you have ever experienced a “runner’s high” (or, in our case, a “swimmer’s high”: a feeling of euphoria upon completing an intense workout), this is the result of endorphin release. Endorphins can help calm symptoms of conditions such as anxiety or depression by providing sensations of relaxation.

When paired with other treatments and measures (such as therapy, journaling, or meditation), exercise can be a fantastic way to improve someone’s mental health. The next time you may be feeling down, a short swim or jog might just be all you need to lift your spirits.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x