fitness

Can Outdoor Swimming Improve Mental Health?

About a month ago, I read an article about researchers from the University of Portsmouth in the UK who are starting a study of the benefits of swimming in nature for treating depression.

Some doctors already prescribe exercise to help address depression. Cold water immersion can reduce stress levels. So offering swimming outdoors and measuring its impact in a rigorous way seems like a good idea to me.

The three sites chosen for people to join a swimming program are an urban lido (outdoor pool), rural lake, and an ocean beach. The results of the swimmers will be compared against a control group using existing treatments for depression.

It turns out I read this article just four days after my last swim for a month. I can’t remember when I last went that long without swimming, especially in the summer.

I don’t suffer from depression, but I was definitely feeling unmotivated after more than a month of dealing with elder care, then COVID. But on Sunday there was a last minute group swim organized for early morning. It was amazing! We had the lake to ourselves for most of the time.

Me treading water in my blue cap and goggles, with an orange swim float. Three friends are swimming in the background, and you can see the trees on shore in the distance

It’s anecdote, not evidence, but you don’t need to convince me that swimming outdoors is a mood booster, especially when I go with friends.

Let us know what you think....