For the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to replace the mundane and grueling rigors of treadmill or walking workouts with the glorious, luxurious, and simply divine experience of swimming. Being an avid swimmer all my life, I knew how much I loved being in the water but never thought about the benefits from a “wellness” point of view. We all have heard from Norma how she lives for time in the water. She relates that it calms her, gives her the opportunity to reflect on her day, and has reshaped her body like no other exercise.
I am truly amazed that two weeks of daily “water workouts” have made such a difference in my mental and physical wellbeing. My body aches have subsided, I am able to handle stress better, and I have firmed up and lost a few pounds.
So, curious as I am, I had to research to see if what Norma related to us and what I was feeling had a physiological basis. From the Discovery Fit & Health website here is one of the 10 health benefits derived from swimming:
“William Wilson wrote in the 1883 book, "The Swimming Instructor": "The experienced swimmer, when in the water, may be classed among the happiest of mortals in the happiest of moods, and in the most complete enjoyment of the happiest of exercises."
Wilson probably didn't know this in the 19th century, but all that happiness was likely due to the release of feel-good chemicals known as endorphins -- one of swimming's most pleasant side effects. In addition to a natural high, swimming can also evoke the relaxation response the same way yoga works on the body. This is due in large part to the constant stretching and relaxing of your muscles combined with deep rhythmic breathing. Swimming is also a meditative exercise, with the sound of your own breathing and the splash of the water acting as a mantra of sorts that can help you "drown out" all other distractions.
Aside from the metaphysical benefits of swimming, research has shown that it can actually change the brain for the better through a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis, in which the brain replaces cells lost through stress [source: Borchard].”
To review all 10 health benefits from swimming, click this link: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/anti-aging-tips/10-health-benefits-of-swimming10.htm
Try it, you'll like it....go see all the little duckys swimming in the water!