Men­tal health ben­e­fits of swim­ming in the spot­light

Loughborough Echo - - SHEPSHED SCENE - PETE WAR­RING­TON peter.war­ring­ton@reach­

A LOUGH­BOR­OUGH woman has given her sup­port to a na­tional cam­paign high­light­ing the ben­e­fits of swim­ming for men­tal health.

An­nie Brooks suf­fered from anx­i­ety for many years and af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with epilepsy in 2012, found swim­ming helped her main­tain a pos­i­tive out­look on life.

Speak­ing about be­ing cho­sen to be part of the na­tion­wide cam­paign which co­in­cides with World Men­tal Health Day to­day (Wed­nes­day), An­nie said: “It’s fan­tas­tic to have been asked to be part of the cam­paign and share the im­por­tance swim­ming has had on my men­tal well­be­ing.”

“I’ve al­ways suf­fered from anx­i­ety and low con­fi­dence. My di­ag­no­sis with epilepsy was lengthy, which made me feel very low. When I was fi­nally di­ag­nosed, I signed up to do a triathlon to raise money for an epilepsy char­ity. This meant I had to get back in the pool and start swim­ming again.

“I find I can just switch off when in the wa­ter and be­fore I know it, what­ever was both­er­ing me isn’t any­more.

“It’s been a good few years since I started swim­ming again and I feel so much more con­fi­dent in my­self. It’s had a huge im­pact on my men­tal health and I’ve found some­thing I re­ally en­joy.”

An­nie’s story is part of a wider cam­paign by Swim Eng­land and their 12 part­ners. This week, the na­tional gov­ern­ing body, as part of the #LoveSwim­ming sec­tor cam­paign, re­leased the find­ings of a new poll which high­lights swim­ming as a key ac­tiv­ity in aid­ing men­tal well­be­ing, with 1.4 mil­lion Bri­tish adults be­liev­ing that swim­ming has sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced their symp­toms of anx­i­ety and/or de­pres­sion.

In ad­di­tion, al­most half a mil­lion (497,400) Bri­tish adults with men­tal health prob­lems who ever swim say that they have re­duced the num­ber of vis­its to a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional re­gard­ing their men­tal health con­di­tion thanks to swim­ming.

And over 497,000 peo­ple have re­duced or no longer take med­i­ca­tion for their men­tal health con­di­tion as a re­sult of swim­ming.

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Well­be­ing at Swim Eng­land said: “There is still a lot of peo­ple who have con­cerns about dis­cussing men­tal health is­sues. Hav­ing the sup­port of An­nie is fan­tas­tic. By shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence, she hopes to in­spire oth­ers to try swim­ming to help their men­tal well­ness.”

“The find­ings re­leased this week are very en­cour­ag­ing and sup­port our work to cre­ate aquatic ex­er­cise classes that GPs and health pro­fes­sion­als can rec­om­mend to peo­ple with men­tal health con­cerns.”

The cam­paign is sup­ported by men­tal health char­ity Mind, who es­ti­mate that ap­prox­i­mately 1 in 4 peo­ple in the UK ex­pe­ri­ence a men­tal health prob­lem each year.

Hay­ley Jarvis, Head of Phys­i­cal Ac­tiv­ity for Mind, said: “We all know that do­ing phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties like swim­ming is good for our bod­ies. 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. In fact, one study has found that by in­creas­ing your ac­tiv­ity lev­els from do­ing noth­ing, to ex­er­cis­ing at least three times a week, you can re­duce your risk of de­pres­sion by up to 30 per cent.”

To find out more about swim­ming fa­cil­i­ties near you, visit swim­­ming.

An­nie Brooks found swim­ming had a great ben­e­fit on her men­tal health and is back­ing a na­tional cam­paign high­light­ing the ben­e­fits of swim­ming for men­tal health.

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