(Go here to read part one.) The cognitive and social benefits of swimming for children with ADHD are closely tied to the physical effects, but are worth discussing on their own. They include increased concentration, a calming effect, a positive form of structure and guidance, and the social support and success being on a team can provide.
- Increased concentration and memory: As mentioned in part one, prolonged exercise increases the amount of oxygen to the brain, resulting in a burst of focusing ability. In addition, one study found that swimming exercise reduced hyperactivity and impulsivity as well as lowering aggressive behavior and increasing short term memory. Translated: Swimming is good for the ADHD brain.
- Meditative Effect: The meditative effect of swimming has long been documented. Aside from the alternating rhythmic movements, swimming releases neurochemicals in the brain that relieve stress and provide a calming effect. In fact, marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., wrote a whole book on the meditative effect of the water, Blue Mind, Using innovative neuroscience combined with personal experiences, Nuchols refers to the Blue Mind as, “a mildly meditative, relaxed state that we find ourselves in when we are in, on or under water,” reinforcing just how vital our connection to the water really is.
- Social Benefits: Children with ADHD need both one-on-one guidance and a fairly rigid structure, and a swim team can be just the right opportunity to provide both. By competing against his or her self while participating in the support and encouragement of the team, swimmers, much like Michael Phelps did, can use swimming to improve both focus and discipline.
The bottom line? Swimming is wildly beneficial for children with ADHD, and a key strategy in the larger toolbox of parenting a child with ADHD. Register with us today for our premium swim lessons to help you unlock this effective tool for your child.
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.