Do something positive in water for your mental health!

Sophie Heywood

A recent scoping review outlines the benefits of exercise in water, including group aquatic exercise or swimming. The scoping review included 23 research studies and reported the following highlights

• Medication for depression may be reduced with a consistent doses of swimming

• Mental health can be influenced by a range of water-based exercises - swimming, group aqua exercise, water walking, Ai Chi and hydrotherapy classes.

• Moderate to high intensity of exercise is the sweet spot for trying to improve mental health

A 30–60 min session, two to three time a week is recommended.

Sounds like it's time for us to get moving in the pool to keep balanced!

The scoping review doesn't go into too much detail about the cause of these improvements. If we consider the physiological changes with aquatic exercise from other research it's likely to be connected to

  • the benefits of exercise generally
  • improved sleep
  • better autonomic (sympathetic nervous system) balance and a less stressed system
  • having positive social contacts
  • having success with exercise

Good luck with your exercise efforts connected to staying balanced!

Becker BE. Aquatic therapy: scientific foundations and clinical rehabilitation applications. Pm&r. 2009 Sep;1(9):859-72.

Jackson M, Kang M, Furness J, Kemp-Smith K. Aquatic exercise and mental health: A scoping review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2022 Feb 23:102820.