New study finds swimming benefits mental health

by charlydove on 9th October 2018

According to a new study from YouGov, commissioned by Swim England, swimming significantly reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression for 1.4 million adults in Britain. Almost half a million of these adults (492,000) say swimming has resulted in fewer visits to a medical professional regarding their mental health. It was also revealed 490,000 people have either stopped or reduced medication for their mental health condition because of swimming.

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This news comes as Swim England and its partners launch their #LoveSwimming 'Escape' campaign. Encouraging adults to embrace the benefits of swimming, it focuses on the extremes from day to day, and the impact these pressures can have on mental health, to how it feels to relax in a swimming pool. Included in the film are women who have discovered swimming has had a positive impact on their mental well being.

The research conducted by YouGov showed that 3.3 million British adults with mental health problems swim regularly (once or twice a month). When asked how swimming affects their life day to day, 43% said it made them feel happier with 26% more motivated to fulfil daily tasks - 15% believing life feels more manageable.

Physical activity can have a positive impact on mental health with the benefits of swimming applying to everyone regardless of age and ability. Swimming stimulates relaxation and reduces stress as well as being good for your heart. What's more, it's a great all round exercise which will make you feel stronger and healthier.


The mental health charity Mind estimates that, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year. Hayley Jarvis, the 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.”

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Swim England, said: “These findings 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 #LoveSwimming campaign is delivered by Swim England in partnership with 1lifeActive NationCircadian TrustEveryone ActiveFreedom LeisureGLLGateshead CouncilLeicester City CouncilNottingham City Council, Nuffield HealthPlaces for People and SercoSwim England is the national governing body for swimming in England helping people learn to swim, enjoy the water safely and compete.

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Visit the Swim England website to find your local pool. Make sure you check out our swimming technique videos if you want to perfect your swimming technique.