Mental health benefits of swimming in the spotlight
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.org/poolfinder#LoveSwimming.
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.