Benefits of Swimming for the Brain

As is well known, water is vital for human survival, but not only its consumption is the cause of all the benefits it brings us. Swimming is a fundamental complement to unleash both physical and mental improvements.

This practice has always been part of our history, because far from the sporting activity, the control of water has been the great challenge pursued by ancient civilizations. For example, in Greece and Rome swimming was part of military training and also granted a social distinction between the rest of the population. For the Egyptians, swimming was part of education. In fact, these reflected the importance on the knowledge of the therapeutic properties of water in its ancient hieroglyphics.

However, all this changed when, during the Middle Ages, the thought spread in Europe that water was the main carrier of diseases and that even the mere introduction into it could transmit epidemics.

It was not until the end of the 18th century that it was instituted as a competitive sport. The first organization of this type was born in Great Britain in 1837 under the name of the National Swimming Society. From this moment on, different groups were created, such as, for example, the Metropolitan Swimming Clubs Association, which later became known as the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). In 1908, with a representation of 8 federations of different nationalities, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) was founded. Its work consisted basically in the regularization of this sport and in the periodic organization of events and competitions that are still valid today.

Since then, swimming has grown as a professional sport, as well as an activity for a healthy life. The physical benefits of swimming are evident in athletes, what we call the “swimmer’s body”. However, there is one characteristic that most swimmers (both professional and amateur) possess and we cannot appreciate at a glance: brain health. In this gallery, we review the highlights.

  1. Swimming repairs damaged neurons
    It’s no surprise that aerobic exercise is not only good for the heart, but also for the brain, as it improves brain function and also helps repair damaged neurons.
  2. Extra benefits
    But swimming, in particular, can provide additional brain benefits at the molecular and behavioural level, affecting neurotransmitters that influence mood and stress-reducing hormones. We reveal each of these properties to you with a scientific study.
  3. Swimming improves cognitive function
    One of the benefits of swimming is that it increases blood flow, which in turn can help improve memory, mood, mental clarity and focus.
  4. Demonstration
    A 2014 study found that immersion in a pool increased blood flow to the brain, because when participants immersed themselves in water up to the height of the heart, their brain blood flow was greater compared to participants who had not immersed themselves in the pool. Blood flow to the central cerebral arteries increased 14%, while blood flow to their posterior cerebral arteries increased 9%.
  5. Swimming improves mood
    Swimming and other similar exercises release neurotrophic or neurotrophin factors in the brain, endorphins, which are believed to be helpful in controlling stress, anxiety, and mood. Physical activity and exercise can help relieve tension and even counteract some depressive symptoms. Thus, swimming helps stimulate the production of brain chemicals that elevate mood.