We are one month into 2017, and it’s been a wild ride so far. Let’s do a quick check in on our New Year’s resolutions. (Everybody knows what the gym looks like on January 2!) Except – I don’t DO New Year’s resolutions. I have a widely shared tendency not to keep them. What I do instead is choose a word or two as my word for the year, a theme from which I can grow and change for the better. This year, my word is stronger.
Now, technically this is a swimming blog and I want to discuss the benefits of swimming, so I will keep it brief. Last year was a difficult year emotionally for my family, including my diagnosis of post-partum anxiety. That, plus the loss of dear friends and other difficult moments, left us limping along by the end of December. When I was diagnosed in March with the post-partum issues, I was determined to take better care of myself (while still taking care of four littles and my husband). Spoiler alert: I did not. And through the rest of the year, it was all I could do to stay somewhat sane.
Fast forward to now, and I see the devastating effect on my physical and mental health when I fail to take care of myself, mind, body, and soul. And so, this year I vow to be stronger. That looks like counseling. (I am being REALLY HONEST with you). That looks like asking for help sometimes with the kids and the house. And most important, that looks like physical exercise.
For this exhausted mama of four, that looks like swimming. Did you know that one of the benefits of swimming is that it can reduce your stress and anxiety levels? Aside from the obvious health benefits of swimming, (increased endurance, increased muscle strength and tone, and improved cardiac function, just to name a few), here are a few unexpected ways you can swim for your life.
Swimming benefits – Four ways to swim for your life.
Swimming can lower inflammation. It’s already established that one of the benefits of swimming is an improved cardiac function, but there is also scientific evidence that swimming and other aerobic activities specifically help lessen the systemic inflammation that leads to heart disease.
Swimming can help improve the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma. For sufferers of exercise-induced asthma, finding aerobic exercise to combat their disease is difficult at best. Not only is swimming easier than other aerobic activities, one study found that swimming can measurably improve symptoms. Children with exercise-induced asthma completed a six-week swimming program and saw reduced snoring, hospitalization, ER visits, mouth-breathing and symptom severity – for up to one year afterward. And my favorite part – they also saw an increase in self-confidence and positive outlook!
And yes, swimming can do that for you too.
On that note, swimming can help reduce stress and alleviate symptoms of depression. It’s proven that aerobic exercise relieves depression and decreases stress thanks to the rush of endorphins and other mood-lifting chemicals in the brain. But alongside the brain boost, swimming incorporates the same alternating stretches and regular breathing patterns of many yoga and other relaxation practices. This helps to create a calming, meditative experience.
Swimming can even help you live longer. Researchers at the University of South Carolina studied over 40,000 men ranging in age from 20-90 for a span of 30 years. Even when considering various health and age-related factors, they found regular swimmers were half as likely to die during the study (50%). Swimmers were living longer than runners, walkers, and non-exercisers.
Enjoy the benefits of swimming. Choose a swim program
Not sure where to start? Check out our most popular swim programs and choose the one that fits you best. Let us help you get stronger in 2017! And me? I’m going swimming this afternoon. Today, at least, I choose to be stronger. I am swimming for my life.
And if you want to give the gift of better health and increased self confidence, consider donating to the One with the Water Foundation. (Learn more about our Mission). We know you want to be compassionate, involved members of your community. When you donate to One with the Water, you create real and lasting change in the lives of our adaptive athletes. They are confident, courageous, successful, and safe, thanks to you!
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.