We are on an island surrounded by water and can pretty much swim every day of the year even in the winter if you are brave enough for the cold water. The physical and psychological effects of swimming can have numerous benefits, several studies have linked regular physical activity to lower experiences of anxiety, as well as effectiveness in treating depression, distress, and overall wel-lbeing (Byrne, & Byrne, 1993; Thorsen et al., 2005; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008)
‘Find some down time’
Often professionals try to emphasise the importance to clients of finding ‘relaxing time, down time or time to practice self-care’ which is basically multiple ways for asking people to take care of themselves from a mental health point of view. Swimming is a great way for individuals to enhance their overall well-being. It can be done in a group, with a friend/partner, or simply on your own as a way of destressing from your day-to-day life. If cost is an issue in your life or you do not have the extra finances to join a pool, the sea is all around us!
Great for People with Asthma
Also, swimming has long been considered a preferred sport for sufferers of asthma to engage in. Swimming is considered to be one of the best sports for asthmatics to excel in and reach high standards (Bar-Or, & Inbar, 1992). Evidence shows that water exercise such as swimming produces less airway resistance than other types of vigorous physical activity such as cycling and running, increasing aerobic capacity and improving cardiovascular fitness and overall quality of life for asthma sufferers (Goodman, & Hays, 2008).
This is due to the position of the body being horizontal which provides a constant breathing pattern compared to other forms of exercise (Bar-Yishay, 1982). The high humidity present in pools is also beneficial for the lungs. Now, you may not have asthma, but swimming will certainly benefit you. Living on a highly populated and polluted island your lungs are going to need a break from a lot of the dust and debris flying around. So, you are giving your body a well-needed cleanse.
Pick the Right Waters
Ideally, when you choose to go swimming in the sea you do not go into ‘dirty’ areas like harbour areas or where there are a lot of boats. In these areas there will be a lot of petrol, oils, and fumes from the boats nearby and this is certainly not going to be good for your body, open spaces are much better, obviously taking care of where you choose to swim and watch out for the places people do not often swim, there is a reason why people are not there the water currents can be brutal.
If you are struggling with mental health issues and would like to speak to a professional, you can book an appointment here.
Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.
Bar-Or, O., & Inbar, O. (1992). Swimming and asthma. Sports Medicine, 14(6), 397-405.
Bar-Yishay, E., Gur, I., Inbar, O., Neuman, I., Dlin, R. A., & Godfrey, S. (1982). Differences between swimming and running as stimuli for exercise-induced asthma. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. 48, 387-97. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7200881
Byrne, A., & Byrne, D. G. (1993). The effect of exercise on depression, anxiety and other mood states: a review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 37(6), 565-574.
Goodman, M., & Hays, S. (2008). Asthma and swimming: a meta-analysis. Journal of Asthma. 45, 639-47. doi: 10.1080/02770900802165980.
Thorsen, L., Skovlund, E., Strømme, S. B., Hornslien, K., Dahl, A. A., & Fosså, S. D. (2005). Effectiveness of physical activity on cardiorespiratory fitness and health-related quality of life in young and middle-aged cancer patients shortly after chemotherapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 23(10), 2378-2388. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2005.04.106
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Physical activity guidelines advisory committee (2008). Retrieved from http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/Report/pdf/CommitteeReport.pdf