• Health & Fitness

5 ways ocean swimming boosts mental health and wellbeing

Swimming’s advantages extend beyond the physical, there are significant benefits your mental wellbeing, too.

Ocean swimming is a great way to get your body moving. It can strengthen your muscles, build endurance and increase your heart rate without putting too much stress on your joints or body. However, swimming’s advantages extend beyond the physical; it can also significantly benefit your mental wellbeing.

Many ocean swimmers are already aware of the ocean’s capacity to calm the chaos of everyday life. Simply submerging yourself in salt water is enough to ease some of the stressors of the day. Whether you’re managing a mental health challenge or just looking for a little relaxation, diving in for a swim can help.

Thanks to Laps for Life, here are five ways that swimming benefits your mental health.

1. Promotes meditation and relaxation

Diving into the ocean is a great way to take your mind off your worries. It can deepen your breathing and release tension from your body. Swimming, especially swimming laps, encourages you to pay attention to your breathing. It can also encourage you to send your attention to different muscle groups as you focus on keeping your form on point. Regulating your breathing and focusing on the present is a winning combo when it comes to meditation, mindfulness and a relaxed state of mind.

2. Fosters social connections

While swimming can sometimes be an isolated sport, it does allow for opportunities to connect with others. Whether you join an official swimming group or connect with the swimming community at your local ocean pool or beach, you’ll find support in shared experiences and goals.

3. Boosts your mood

Swimming can be a pretty serious workout. It requires all major muscle groups to get moving against the resistance of the water, so it’s no surprise that it gets your heart pumping. Not only does it elevate your heart rate, but it also initiates the flow of feel-good chemicals–because there’s nothing quite like a surge of endorphins and a splash of serotonin to put a spring in your step.

4. Helps you catch some sleep

If you’re someone who struggles to sleep, swimming might be able to help. Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging when feeling wired or tense before bed. However, engaging in regular exercise such as swimming can dissipate pent-up energy, so that when your head hits the pillow you’ll nod off more easily and sleep more soundly. With a more regular sleeping pattern, you’ll wake up feeling well-rested and refreshed–which is important to help you manage your mood and any challenges that life throws your way.

5. Shifts focus from negative thoughts and feelings

Swimming, especially swimming in the ocean, requires your full attention. If you want to avoid gulping down a mouthful of seawater, or drifting into the path of another swimmer–or worse, a surfer–you need to be entirely focused on the task at hand. That makes it the perfect distraction from negative thoughts and feelings. Physical activity can also be a great outlet for your frustrations.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned swimmer, committing to a swimming routine is something that can benefit your mental health and wellbeing.

If you need an incentive, why not sign up for ReachOut’s Laps for Life challenge taking place this March?

All proceeds raised go towards supporting youth mental health and suicide prevention across Australia. It’s free to sign up and with every lap you swim, you’ll help save lives. For more information and to sign up, head here: https://www.lapsforlife.com.au/

Janina Jancu is the Director of Operations at leading youth mental health service, ReachOut.

  • Written by Ocean Swims on 13 February 2024
  • (Updated on 13 February 2024)

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