Water offers many wellness benefits: it has therapeutic properties, it serves as an ideal setting for sports, and it promotes relaxation and body awareness.
Water is fundamental to our existence. Every system in the human body relies on water for critical functions, such as carrying nutrients to cells or flushing out toxins. Already as young children, we’re encouraged to drink lots of water because it’s good for us and makes us healthier.
But it’s not just drinking water that’s good for us. Water offers many physical and mental benefits beyond those provided by consumption alone.
Water has long been understood to have therapeutic and healing properties, and ancient Greeks and Romans were already using thermal baths to promote health as well as hygiene. Today, hydrotherapy is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, from arthritis and nerve problems to sleep disorders and stress.
Water also serves as an ideal setting for sports. Many people consider swimming to be the perfect sport because it provides a full-body workout, builds both cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, and is low impact, meaning that it protects your joints from stress. This makes swimming a sport you can do your entire life, and it’s also excellent for maintaining fitness when injured. For those who are not keen swimmers, other types of water exercise offer similar benefits. Water aerobics, for example, has a long association with rehabilitation and healing, but in recent decades it has been recognized as a sport in its own right. Thanks to water’s buoyancy and resistance (12 times that of air), movement in the water can significantly improve muscle tone, mobility, balance and coordination.
Competitive swimmers are driven to succeed, and they train in pursuit of specific goals. That’s extremely admirable, of course, but sometimes being in the water takes on a more calming and meditative aspect. When you relax and focus on your breathing and your body’s movements as you swim, you increase your body awareness and gain a heightened sense of well-being while at the same time improving your swimming technique. In this fast-paced world, mindful movement in the water can help you unwind and overcome anxiety.
If you can’t spend as much time in the water as you’d like, being near it is the next best thing. Numerous studies have clearly established the physical and mental health benefits of green spaces, and now researchers are discovering that “blue spaces” (seas, rivers, lakes and urban water features) can boost health and well-being even more than do green spaces alone. Scientists have yet to determine why humans are so attracted to water and why it has such a positive effect on us, but as water sports lovers we’re not hard to convince.
Your relationship with the water offers many wellness benefits, so get out there and cultivate your water instinct!
What wellness benefits do you experience when you swim?