We all know that swimming is great for both your physical and mental health and we always feel much better after having a swim. This is because swimming like most other sports releases endorphins which give you feelings of happiness. For those of you particularly prone to feelings of stress. Swimming is a great workout to help reduce stress. Swimming is a ‘cortisol-conscious’ workout. In coping with stressors in our lives, the body releases the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ to help the body cope with whatever danger is presented. However since our daily stressors are now anything from bad traffic, work-related stress, grumpy neighbours some people are at risk of overexposure to cortisol. This can put you at risk of many health problems including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with your life stressors. Studies have shown that some high-intensity exercise such as running or CrossFit can cause cortisol levels to rise. For most people this is not a problem but if you are prone to getting stressed you may want to consider more low-intensity or mindful exercises such as swimming, yoga, pilates etc. Swimming in cold water is in particular beneficial as cold water activates stress responses in the body, and repeated exposure to cold water can result in a process of adaptation called habituation. One theory is that if you can adapt to the cold you are better able to blunt your stress response to other daily stresses. So get in the cold water and feel stress-free this summer!