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Swimming as a Stress-Reliever: Exploring the Mental Health Benefits of Swimming

Are you in search of a powerful exercise that not only strengthens your body but also rejuvenates your mind? Look no further than the inviting waters of swimming.

Being by water often elicits feelings of calm and relaxation. Perhaps this is why many of us seek out ocean views and hours of pool-side sunbathing on our long-awaited holidays. However, swimming also proves to be a powerful exercise that provides many mental health benefits, including reducing anxiety and depression. 

So, should you try swimming for stress relief? In this article, we dive headfirst into the mental health benefits of swimming and why this is an exercise you might want to consider adding to your regular routine.

Can Swimming Be a Stress Reliever?


Many claim after swimming, they feel refreshed and more relaxed. Like many types of physical activities, the health benefits of swimming include a release of serotonin and endorphins, which make us feel good and help simmer stress. Below, we’ll dig in deep into how swimming helps manage stress further and what other mental benefits you can expect from swimming. 

7 Mental Health Benefits of Swimming

The mental health benefits of swimming every day include decreased cortisol, improved stress management, better serotonin regulation, improved nervous system regulation, calming effects, and even enhanced mental alertness. 

Inevitably, there are many side effects of swimming, helping you take your physical and mental wellness to the next level. So, let’s take a closer look. What are the mental health benefits of swimming?

1. Swimming Impacts Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is the main stress hormone in the body, released in high amounts first thing in the morning and when we’re under increased physical or psychological stress. Yet, swimming might just offer an easy and leisurely way to reduce stress and help you re-balance these hormones.

However, it’s important to note that too much exercise can place increasing demands on the body, which would actually lead to increased cortisol. This is why it’s so important to ease into any new exercise and gradually build up the intensity (more on this below). 

2. Swimming as Water Therapy for Anxiety and Stress

And since most phones don’t bode well with being in the water for long durations, swimming can offer a great way to take a break from social media and the news. 

Physical exercise, like swimming, can also be a wonderful way to take your mind off things as you focus on each stroke and each breath. In turn, this may help reduce anxiety and stress, propelling you into a more calm and relaxed state.

3. Swimming Plays a Role in Serotonin Regulation

All types of exercise promote the release of serotonin and endorphins, including swimming. In particular, serotonin, frequently referred to as the “happy hormone,” promotes a sense of well-being and positivity. That high you feel after exercise? It’s your endorphins and serotonin.

In some cases of anxiety and depression, it’s thought serotonin dysregulation may occur, leading to worsening mental health symptoms. However, with regular exercise, like swimming, you can boost these feel-good hormones and ensure your mood stays leveled.

4. Swimming Positively Affects the Nervous System

The release of those feel-good hormones positively impacts our nervous system, taking us out of the “fight-or-flight mode.” But this isn’t the only aspect regulating our nervous system.

In comparison, when stressed, we tend to take shallow and rapid breaths. Yet, the deep and even inhales and exhales required for swimming help calm the nervous system and deter stress, enhancing our mental wellness.

5. The Calming Effect of Swimming

Being in or near water produces calming effects. We’ve likely all noticed this. While swimming itself offers many benefits for our mood and mental health, the colour blue, which is reflected by the water, may also promote feelings of calm.

6. Swimming Aids in Mental Alertness

7. Sea Swimming Boosts Metabolism 

Swimming isn’t just limited to the pool; you can experience even more benefits by taking the plunge into open water. The cold shock not only wakes you up but also boosts your metabolism, putting you in fat-burning mode. The current in open water also adds resistance, making you work harder and providing an invigorating challenge.

Aura Leisure’s Swimming Best Practices for Your Mental Health

Develop a Regular and Consistent Swimming Routine

While even just one swim session can boost your mood, the long-term benefits of swimming include increased longevity, better heart health, improved strength, increased muscle, and more! The importance of developing a regular and consistent swim schedule should never go underestimated. 

For instance, the benefits of swimming in the morning could mean you get your workout done early and have enhanced mood and energy, starting your day on the right foot. The key is to find a time that works for you and stick with it.

Seek Support and Join Like-Minded Groups

When we swim, stress relief and a better mood are bound to occur. Yet, when we add socialising and friends into the mix, this can take our mental health and enjoyment to the next level. 

As humans, we are social creatures. We gain immense fulfillment and purpose by connecting with other like-minded individuals. So, how can you do that when using swimming as a stress reliever? 

There are many stress-relieving water exercises you can try, such as those offered in aquatic classes. You can also join swim clubs or recruit your friends to join you. 

You may also notice familiar faces when you swim laps at the same time each day. Why not go up and introduce yourself? Make a few friends while you improve your mental and physical health; The social benefits add a whole other layer.

Start Small and Progress Gradually

When swimming to manage stress, it’s also important to avoid overwhelming yourself at the beginning. For example, committing to swimming every day might seem like a lot at first and lead you to throw in the towel. 

Instead, start with a couple of times a week for a few minutes, then see how you feel. Gradually increase your duration and frequency as you become comfortable and notice your strength and endurance improve.

Mindful Swimming and Self-Care

Swimming for mental health requires a certain amount of mindfulness. For instance, we want to be mindful of each stroke we take, ensuring we don’t cause injury. We also need to be mindful of our breathing, making sure we give our body the oxygen it needs. Reminding ourselves to stay in the moment, focusing on our body’s movements as we perform them, can further enhance our overall swimming experience.

How Swimming with Aura Can Help