Mental health illnesses affect millions of people in the UK, with approximately a fifth of British adults showing symptoms of anxiety or depression, as stated by the Mental Health Foundation.
While there’s much discussion about the various methods that people can employ to reduce their symptoms, such as consulting with medical professionals, taking medication or following a certain diet, taking a regular dip in the pool could also prove beneficial in the long run.
According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Swim England, 1.4 million adults in the UK have found that swimming has had a positive effect on their anxiety or depression.
Furthermore, almost half a million of British adults who swim and have mental health issues have stated that swimming consistently has resulted in them making less frequent visits to a medical professional in order to discuss their mental health.
The poll found that around 3.3 million Brits over the age of 16 who have mental health issues swim at least once every two to three weeks.
When questioned about how swimming affects their mental state, 43 per cent of the swimmers stated that it makes them feel happier, 26 per cent said that it makes them feel more motivated and 15 per cent said that it makes it easier for them to cope with everyday life.
Hayley Jarvis, head of physical activity for mental health charity Mind, speaks about the importance of exercising for both physical and mental wellbeing.
“We all know that doing physical activities like swimming is good for our bodies,” she says.
“But our physical health and mental health are closely linked and we know from our own Get Set to Go programme that being physically active can also be very beneficial for our mental health too.
“If you’re more active there’s good evidence to suggest that at most ages, there’s a trend towards lower rates of depression.”
This week, Swim England has helped to launch the #LoveSwimming ‘Escape’ campaign to encourage more adults to take up swimming as a means of decreasing the levels of stress that they may feel on a daily basis.
The campaign has been launched in the same week as World Mental Health Day, a global day of celebration that aims to increase awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health issues.
Ian Cumming, chair of the Swimming and Health Commission, comments on how swimming can be a very soothing activity.
“Physical activity in any form can have a positive impact on a person’s mental health, but swimming is unique because the buoyancy of water ensures everyone is able to take part at a pace that suits them," he says.
"It is particularly good for people with restricted movement."
Research shows that simply being in water can be restorative, particularly swimming outside.”
According to Mind, one in four people in the UK are likely to experience a mental health issue every year.
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