What Swimming Does To Your Brain?

A good swim can make you feel like a brand-new person! That’s because stimulates brain chemicals that foster the growth of nerve cells!

Swimming also affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin that influence mood and produces ANP, a stress-reducing hormone, which helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety.

Northwestern Swimmers Support Awareness For Brain Tumor Awareness Month

Regardless of cause, a growing number of researchers and psychologists alike have become true believers in the efficacy of swimming. “We know, for instance, that vigorous exercise like swimming can significantly decrease both anxiety and depression” says sports psychologist Aimee C. Kimball, director of mental training at the Center for Sports Medicine at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Besides possible biochemical changes in the brain, swimming requires the alternating stretch and relaxation of skeletal muscles while simultaneously deep-breathing in a rhythmic pattern.

Mental Clarity

Since most pools and coached masters workouts run on a consistent weekly schedule, swimmers usually find themselves settling into a weekly rhythm that becomes automatic. There’s no need to decide if you should go swim now or later.

For stressed out people, this lack of options is comforting because it removes the burden of yet another decision. All you have to do is show up at your regular time there’s a good chance you’ll end up leaving the pool feeling a little better than when you arrived.

Because of its repetitive nature, Swimming is incredibly meditative. There’s even a built-in mantra, be this the slow count of laps, or self-directed thoughts like “relax” or “stay smooth.”

Increased Blood Flow To Cerebral Artery

Researchers have made a surprising discovery: Simply steeping yourself in a pool of warm water increases blood flow in the brain.

“We found that brain blood flow is higher when subjects were immersed in water up to the level of the heart compared to on land — laying the ground work for further investigation of its effects on cerebrovascular health,” said Dr. Howard Carter of University of Western Australia, School of Sport Science, whose new study appears in the American Journal of Physiology.

While the participants were immersed in water, blood flow to their middle cerebral arteries increased by 14 percent while blood flow to their posterior cerebral arteries increased by nine percent.

“As with land-based exercise, different types of water-based activities, such as water aerobics and swimming, have slightly different effects on heart function and cerebral blood flow,” said Carter in a press release.