It’s no news that exercise is good for our brains. It respects a basic principle: what is good for our heart is good for our nervous system. But is there one physical activity that has more benefits than another?
There are many reasons to go to the swimming pool, lake or sea this summer: to make the heat more bearable, to have a good time, exercise our muscles, etc. But best of all, swimming is one of the most complete exercises to improve our physical and mental health.
And to convince you to continue reading this article, we are going to reveal a secret. The expression “eternal fountain of youth” could be literal. And the key is in the water.
Here is an overview. Swimming promotes the release of substances in the brain that improve cognition and the Memorypartly because it helps establish new brain connections. Helps our body fight against oxidative stress and free radicalsreduces stress levels and improves our immune system. Together, it improves vibe.
Let’s start swimming.
First of all, the physical benefits of swimming are undeniable. It is a very complete exercise that activates the main muscle groups of the body. In addition to stimulating the cardiovascular system, the work done is much greater than in other activities, thanks to the resistance of the water. Another advantage is that the body, being submerged, receives less physical impact and it is easier to move.
But physical fitness is just as important as mental health.
As a good aerobic exercise – one that requires an effort of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to the muscles – swimming produces the release of endorphins.
These substances are nature’s drug of the brain, since they attenuate the perception of pain, they give us pleasure and an immense feeling of well-being and happiness. This is why swimming is so addictive, because secreted endorphins bind to opioid receptors in the brain, responsible for functions such as sedation, pain reduction or euphoria.
Let no one be afraid. Endorphins are not at all negative, quite the contrary. Among other things, they have proven to be effective in treating the Depression. Some studies have even shown them to be much more effective than some antidepressants. In this sense, swimming as a therapy improves the mood and reduces the symptoms of those who suffer from this disorder. This would reduce and even eliminate drugs in some patients.
Part of the antidepressant effect could be due to the formation of new neurons in the seahorse, something that happens after swimming. The hippocampus is also the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Brain training for all ages
We know that physical activity helps keep our minds sharp as we age, but not just in old age. Some studies have shown that swimming helps develop the infant’s brain. More specifically, a recent study showed that children aged 6 to 12 have a better ability to retain vocabulary after swimming for several minutes. This activity therefore seems to improve memory in people of all ages.
Another of its great virtues is that it stimulates brain functions. This is the result we reached after a study carried out in adult swimmers, who, after 20 minutes of swimming, improved said function.
Much of the responsibility for these benefits lies with the BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), a brain growth factor that improves memory and cognition. Because what differentiates swimming from other cardiovascular activities is precisely that it stimulates BDNF version.
Relax and disconnect
The reason could be simpler than you think: water. On the one hand, the liquid medium produces relaxation, but, in addition, the rhythmic movement of swimming makes us enter into a meditative state. Added to this is the fact that in the water we can disconnect from the sounds that surround us and only hear our breathing.
The benefits don’t stop there. Swimming reduces emotional tension because it lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It also increases the production of serotoninone of the happiness hormones that helps us fight anxiety, depression and stress.
And as if that weren’t enough, the nerve fibers of the hard body -the brain wiring which allows communication between the two hemispheres – develop further in swimmers through the precision of strokes and the way bilateral movements are used to swim.
And it is that swimming activates both hemispheres, which need a greater amount of oxygen. This increased communication between the two sides of the brain leads to increased cognition and better learning abilities.
But don’t leave…there’s even more!
Stop cognitive deterioration
Recently, a study showed that swimming suppresses cognitive decline in obese mice. The aim of this work was to reproduce in animals what happens in humans when they gain weight following a poor diet. This results in a deterioration of learning and memory abilities, closely linked to the inflammation of nerve tissue and the reduction of neurotrophic or growth factors in the brain.
Swimming reverses these abnormal changes. Therefore, it rescues obese mice from impaired learning and memory ability, reducing obesity, reducing hippocampal inflammation and increasing the production of neurotrophic factors such as BDNF.
If you swim regularly, you probably hadn’t thought of all that this activity brings you. So from now on, after the high that comes after swimming or addiction by the pool, think about everything that happens in your brain after swimming.
For non-swimmers, if you need an excuse to jump in the pool this summer, consider this article a sign.
Who knows? Likewise, the secret of eternal youth is found in water.