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5 Health Benefits of Swimming

5 Health Benefits of Swimming

By Dakota Murphey

With Spring here, most of us will be looking forward to exercising outdoors and enjoying our favourite fair-weather activities. Although the physical and mental health benefits of swimming are known, having a few rays of sun to warm up the sea or local lido can soon tempt us in.  


benefits of swimming outdoors

Whether you enjoy an exhilarating outdoor swim in a beautiful natural setting or prefer floating in an open pool, there’s no denying the therapeutic qualities and boost to all-round fitness swimming provides. Coupled with a healthy diet and as a social activity, there is an alluring meditative side to a relaxing swim that instantly calms the mind and alleviates stress. Indeed, for anyone trying to manage menopausal symptoms with natural methods, cold water swims are reported to help ease hot flushes, anxiety and mood swings.

This article explores five incredible physical and mental benefits for anyone looking to boost their health and wellness in a fun, sustainable and low-impact way.

1. Boosts mental health and wellness

In our fast-paced, often stressful lives, having a dip in a pool can be a powerful antidote to everyday worries and concerns. The rhythmic nature of swimming regular lengths is both a soothing and relaxing experience. In fact, when surveyed, 94% of regular outdoor swimmers reported feeling happier after a swim while 68% swam to improve their physical fitness. Whether you choose to take a dip at your nearest beach, at an indoor leisure centre or in rivers, lakes or outdoor lidos, swimming is renowned for lifting our moods and drowning our negative thoughts or emotions.

Swimming’s profound value lies in its capacity to evoke a sense of mental clarity and Zen-like focus through meditative strokes and structured breathing. Regular lane swims can help to alleviate anxiety, reduce feelings of depression and switch off negative thought patterns. Swimming can also provide a confidence-building boost that works in tandem with professional counselling and life coaching sessions. The solitude of being underwater while focusing on your strokes and deep breathing is a positive and personal exercise in mindfulness.

2. Relaxes the mind

The calming mental health benefits of swimming in a natural environment offer similar healing powers to those experienced by walking barefoot. Connecting with nature can reduce stress and boost your immune system, being submerged in natural water promotes equally positive energies. You are able to ‘be in the moment’ which helps to reset your mind as well as remove any external distractions and stressful triggers.

mindful swimming

It doesn’t matter if you enjoy swimming in a heated pool or in a beautiful outdoor setting, it is about being mindful of your natural swim surroundings and of your rhythmic breathing. Wherever you swim, all that remains is your breath and that feeling that you are floating, at one with the water and of literally feeling lighter, as if a load has been taken away from you. The significant positive escapism feelings from swimming are akin to other mindful exercises like yoga and meditation. These all encourage you to focus on yourself and seek inner peace.

3. Fosters a healthier lifestyle

Beyond its meditative and psychological values, swimming's low-impact nature makes it an excellent full-body workout suitable for all ages and abilities. As your bodyweight is buoyant and supported by the water's resistance, swimming engages and tones all major muscle groups without putting undue strain on joints. This lessens risks of injury that are common in high-impact sport while still providing an effective cardio and strength training session. 

swimming for joints pain

While few activities offer the holistic health benefits of swimming, no wellness regime would be complete without a great diet, a balanced lifestyle and good habits. Regular swim sessions coupled with a balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, pulses, nuts, and protein, contribute to your overall health and wellbeing.

4. Promotes inclusion and accessibility 

Thanks to the universal health benefits of the sport, the UK has an abundance of leisure centres with indoor pools, outdoor lidos and water parks that open swimming up to the general public throughout the year. Thanks to our national school physical education curriculum, most of us were lucky enough to be taught to swim from a young age. 

Furthermore, with its goal to open up swimming as a sport for all, Swim England’s AccessAquatics is a worthy initiative to make swimming more sustainable, affordable and accessible so that people of all ages and abilities can take part and benefit now and in the future. 

Swimming is an activity that can be enjoyed well into older age. However, swimming is ideal for individuals with limited mobility as it places less strain on the body and provides an environment that naturally reduces inflammation and improves circulation. Indeed, swimmers report marked physical benefits from leisure swim and proper hydrotherapy sessions, such as decreases in arthritis, back pain and blood pressure.

5. Brings people together

Taking the plunge with friends and like-minded water lovers can be healthy due to the social nature of the activity. Although you can reap the rewards of swimming alone and enjoy some peace and tranquillity, there’s nothing more liberating and fun than jumping into the waves with your local swim buddies.  

outdoor swimming benefits

In fact, outdoor swimming (or ‘wild swimming’) has increased in popularity in recent years, with more and more people keen to benefit from health and wellness benefits associated with the pastime. There is an outdoor swimming renaissance as increasing numbers sign up to local and national swim groups to enjoy the thrill of swimming together in the sea, lakes, rivers and outdoor lidos across the UK. 

In addition to swimming's inherent health benefits, being outside in beautiful natural environments enhances your mood further with the additional healthy healing properties of increased sunlight absorption of vitamin D, fresh air, and mood-enhancing effects of being surrounded by beautiful scenery. Considering these factors, swimming emerges as an ideal activity due to its numerous mental health and fitness benefits.