A healthy body, healthy mind. Countless studies have shown that people seeking to improve their mental health can achieve this in a seemingly roundabout way: by improving their physical health. Swimming is one physical activity that has gained in popularity during the pandemic. In a piece for CNN, Dr. Mark Lieber explains just what swimming can do for your mind and body.
Dr. Lieber cites a fascinating statistic from a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association: the average American has gained around 7 pounds during this pandemic. That is a lot of weight gain for a lot of people in such a short time. A lot of weight gain in a culture with a fat shaming problem. This in itself has consequences for mental health, even when there is a movement to embrace all body types. Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology, says that even though human beings did not evolve to exercise, it is something we should do, and something that is ultimately healthy as well as rewarding for us from both a mental and physical point of view.
It is hard to know what amount of the weight gained by the average American is due to diet, or the lack of exercise or even stress. However, it is clear that there has been a decline in physical activity that predates the pandemic by over a century. As more and more people have taken up sedentary jobs, physical activity has stopped becoming a natural part of people’s lives. Swimming helps to burn fat and strengthen muscles. Swimming is a more efficient exercise than running because human beings are not as good at it as they are running: it takes seven times more energy to swim a given distance than it does to run it. So, you burn more fat and build more muscle per given distance, when you are swimming, compared to when you are running. The best swimmers have nothing on runners or animals like seals and beavers adapted to swimming. That’s a great thing for a person looking for exercise.
To be a good swimmer, you have to be able to control your breathing. In the long run, this increases total lung capacity and your lung’s overall functioning. Controlled breathing has other benefits as well. There is significant evidence that you can improve your mood, reduce stress, and achieve a calmer, more meditative state, by controlling your breathing.
Swimming also improves mood by stimulating your brain into producing its own natural opioids: endorphins, along with neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
According to research published in JAMA, depressive symptoms have grown by over 300% across America. A study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that health care workers, people under 30 years of age, and other groups are particularly prone to depressive symptoms.
As Dr. Lieber argues, it is important to undertake physical activity such as swimming, running, tai chi, weight training, and yoga in order to not only improve physical health, but in order to improve mental health as well. The overall message is important to seek sources of relaxation. People have not only taken up physical activity, they have taken to visiting the spa -which has made having a dermani Medspa Franchising for the enterprising business person-, travel and other activities that touch their physical and mental health.