Swimming pools aren’t just for the kids on a hot summer day. This year, resolve to discover the tremendous health and wellness benefits that a clean pool has to offer when used regularly for exercise, therapy and meditation. Here’s how you can improve your physical and mental health just by getting in the pool:
Move Your Body
Swimming is an ‘easy on the joints’ exercise that releases mood-improving and pain-reducing endorphins. A study shows that simply being immersed in water increases blood flow to the brain which improves memory, concentration, cognitive functioning, and response to stress. The cherry on top of these benefits is the calories that can be burned while in the water. The top two calorie-burning swim strokes are freestyle, which burns 300 calories every 30 minutes, and butterfly, which burns 350 calories every 30 minutes. Skip the trip to the gym and try swimming for 15-30 minutes a day.
Heal Your Body
People have used water therapy, moving and stretching underwater, to lower pain and reduce stress for centuries. Aquatic therapy uses the physical properties of water to rehabilitate individuals recovering from surgery or injury, and to improve strength and decrease pain for those suffering from a variety of chronic conditions or mobility problems. Buoyancy supports the body to decrease the amount of joint stress typically accompanied with land-based exercise, and can help with balance, inflammation and swelling. Viscosity, or water movement, provides resistance to strengthen muscles without using weights. Typically, aquatic therapy is initially instructed by a physical therapist, and can be easily adapted to suit the needs of any individual to do at home for a more comfortable recovery.
Relax Your Mind
For mindful relaxation, try swimming or floating meditation, which provides an immersive, sensory-deprivation experience that helps to tune out distractions. While swimming to meditate, concentrate on the rhythm of your limbs, making your motions slow and deliberate. Notice how the water feels flowing past your body, from head to toes. Regulate your breath, breathing in deeply through the mouth while above water, and out through the nose while underwater. Be totally present in the act of swimming and put all other thoughts aside. While practicing floating meditation simply float on your back in the pool with your eyes closed. Once again focus on your breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and breathe out for a count of four, at least four times. Again, conduct a body scan, this time concentrating on relaxing every part of you – your toes, feet, calves, thighs, and so on until your entire body is relaxed.