Swimming regularly can help relieve the stress of pandemic life, but the benefits of a dip in the pool go well beyond the momentary boost of mood.

When I first came to the surface, my first thought was that I felt a little more active than usual, probably because of the extra pounds brought about by quarantine. But as I continued to glide in the water, my initial weight gain concerns were replaced by a feeling of catharsis, as if the water were clearing me of the stress that had accumulated during the coronavirus outbreak. After a stroke, I could feel my mood rising, my mind clearing, my body weakening.

Thirty minutes later I came out of the pool feeling confident զգ level, ready to start the first of four night shifts in the intensive care unit. I’m usually scared of the first of these night shifts, but somehow the problem seemed more common than usual. “Whatever happens tonight, it will happen,” I said to myself, encouragingly. “No matter what, there will always be tomorrow.”

My improved mood was definitely related to my last dive in the pool. Like all forms of physical activity, swimming can improve your mood by stimulating endorphins, natural opioids produced in the brain, as well as other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.

But the benefits of swimming go far beyond a moment’s rise – especially right now.

Changing your mind

As we all come out of isolation, experts say that maintaining mental health should be a top priority.

“Americans have faced unprecedented challenges in recent months, but by focusing daily on caring for our own emotional well-being and supporting the well-being of our loved ones, we can successfully alleviate the mental health effects of COVID-19,” the United States said in a statement earlier this year. Former Surgeon General Dr. ome Jerome Adams.

“Although this is a difficult time in our nation’s history, I remain steadfast in encouraging Americans to overcome sound mechanisms,” he added.

With the spread of Covid-19, the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the United States has more than tripled, according to a recent study by the journal JAMA. Some high-risk groups, including healthcare professionals under the age of 30, were at greater risk of developing anxiety or depression due to the epidemic, according to another study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
Regular exercise, including swimming, jogging, yoga, weight training, even tai chi, remains one of the most powerful tools we have to improve our mood and overall mental health. A 2016 meta-analysis combining data from 23 randomized controlled trials showed that exercise was comparable to both antidepressants and psychiatry in the treatment of depression.
Although part of this is due to the production of endorphins, exercise also leads to significant structural changes in the brain, particularly in the primitive structure of the brain called the hippocampus. Together with another structure of the brain called the amygdala, the hippocampus is heavily involved in the formation of memory and the regulation of emotions.
Regular aerobic exercise over time, such as running, swimming, reduces inflammation, and promotes the growth of hippocampal nerves, has a positive effect on both mood and memory. Conversely, atrophy or narrowing of the hippocampus has been linked to the development of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
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Ignoring evolution

Our mental health is not the only thing affected by the Covidian epidemic. Our bodies have also been damaged. The average American raised about 7 7 during the epidemic, according to another study published in JAMA.
“The impact of COVID on long-term health is worrying,” said Daniel Lieberman, a professor at Harvard University’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. Lieberman is also the author of “Exercises. Why is it that something we have never developed to do is healthy and rewarding? ”
Hold your breath for less stress and more focused relaxation

“How much of that extra weight comes from diet (lack of exercise) or stress is hard to deal with, but a well-documented decline in physical activity is obviously one reason,” Lieberman added.

Like all aerobic exercise, swimming is a great way to build muscle and burn fat. But swimming comes with one additional advantage. Human swimmers typically expend about seven times as much energy running a given distance.

This is because, according to Lieberman, people did not necessarily have to become experienced swimmers. The fastest human swimmers can reach speeds of about 4.5 miles per hour. The speed at which many people move from fast walking to slow running.

While this can be frustrating, this can be bypassed-but not unless you’re a techie who knows what he’s doing.

“You just have to watch the seal or the swimmer swim to realize that even the best human swimmers perform poorly compared to mammals adapted for swimming,” Lieberman added. “The good news is that this inefficiency makes swimming a very effective calorie-burning exercise.”

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There are many other aspects of swimming that make it a particularly useful form of exercise. For example, when we swim, we are completely horizontal, which increases the return of blood from the venous system to the heart.
This distinctive aspect of swimming comes with additional heart benefits. For example, the maximum heart rate is about 10-15 beats slower during a swim compared to running, which increases the time at which the heart can relax and fill with blood, known as “diastolic function.” As a result, the rate of heart attack, or the amount of blood pumped by the heart during each stroke, increases by 30% to 60% during swimming, according to the International Journal of Cardiology in 2013.
Swimming is also different from other forms of aerobic exercise in that it relies on controlled breathing. Over time, this can lead to increased overall lung capacity and improved overall lung function.

But if you have limited access to the pool or a large body of water, or feel that you can not swim very long, do not worry. The most important thing is to stay active this summer – choose an activity that you like. does, according to Lieberman.

“If you find it difficult to exercise, remember that even a small amount of exercise can have huge benefits for both physical and mental health. “You don’t have to run a marathon or swim the English Channel,” Lieberman said. “And if you do not like to exercise, find a way to make it fun. For many, this means that it will be social. Training with friends will help you to introduce yourself and keep motivated. ”

Dr. Mark Liber is a Resident Internal Physician at John ounce Hopkins Bayway Medical Center, Baltimore, և 2017-2018. Has been a Stanford-CNS Health և Global Media Researcher. She plans to focus her medical career on HIV-LGBTQ primary care.