There are a myriad of benefits to breaking out of a fitness rut, both mentally and physically. Part of applying the growth mindset to our fitness routine is understanding that learning and growth happen on a continuum. It’s good for our body and brain to continue to learn. In fact, studies show that learning a new skill later in life can actually increase our cognitive function. Adding in a new activity like swimming works across the full spectrum to improve our mental and physical well being.
I’ve chosen to focus on swimming because that’s what we do here at One with the Water. But more importantly, the health benefits of swimming are well known and can even help add years to your life. Countless studies outline the many ways swimming has a positive impact on your health. Here are just a few, among many.
- Improves cardio function without the stress of impact sports.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Improves endurance.
- Tones muscle and builds strength.
- Alleviates stress and can help in reducing depression and anxiety.
Aside from the benefits listed above, swimming is a low impact, naturally resistant way to work your whole body for any fitness level. Besides what we listed above, swimming three times a week can help to increase the size of the hippocampus region in the brain, improving cognition, and assisting with activities like planning, scheduling, multitasking, and memory.
Swimming works in all kinds of ways for all types of personalities. For introverts, the pool creates a quiet stress-relieving environment that can be private and controlled. For the extrovert, there is a world of classes to choose from that engage both the social and physical centers of your brain. In fact, research done by the University of California found that people who exercise with a partner enjoy it more.
So where do I begin?
If you are a weak swimmer or perhaps have never learned, start with aerobics classes, jogging in the shallow end, or even go out on a limb and take adult swim lessons. It’s incredibly empowering to conquer your fear, embarrassment, or any other emotions holding you back from something like learning to swim. When you adopt a growth mindset to overcome fear, you are operating with the understanding that your abilities are flexible, rather than fixed.
For the more competitive, experienced swimmer, challenge yourself by joining a Master’s Swim Club. Change your environment by taking your swim to the open water. Swimming in open water offers increased resistance when swimming in currents, is gentler on skin and hair then harsh chlorine, and for many, it is mentally and physically refreshing to experience the changing environment.
Regardless of how you do it, whether you swim walk or crawl your way out, breaking out of your fitness rut may be just what your body and brain need to jumpstart your wellbeing.
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.