Dr. Mark Lieber told CNN that the last time he went swimming was over a year ago. His mind turned back to the stressful events from the past 16 months as he stood over the sparkling blue pool at my neighborhood gym: moving to a new city during a pandemic, completing a residency program for internal medicine, and seeing domestic and international patients at the hospital had all been demanding.
Getting Regular Exercise Through Swimming Benefits Our Mind And Body
As he dove beneath the surface of the water he noticed that he was a bit buoyant, probably due to the extra weight he had gained while quarantined. He realized as he continued to glide through the water that the initial concern about weight gain had been replaced by a catharsis as though the water had cleansed him of all the stress he had stored during the Coronavirus outbreak. The mood of his mind and body lifted after each stroke, and his body became more relaxed.
His first night shift in the intensive care unit of the hospital began thirty minutes after he emerged from the pool. He felt calm and confident as he prepared for the night shift. That night shift was less overwhelming than usual because he is not used to dreading these first night shifts. Tomorrow will always come regardless of what happens tonight. At that moment, he had the following encouraging thought in his head.
He added that recent swimming in the pool no doubt contributed to his improved mood. A swimming session is similar to other physical activities in that it stimulates the release of endorphins, natural opioids made in the brain, and other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. Swimming is beneficial for more than just lifting your spirits — especially now when everyone is feeling low.
Decide to change your mind
The importance of taking care of our mental health is more important now than it has ever been, experts say, as more people emerge from isolation.
In a news release earlier this year, Dr. Jerome Adams said that Americans have suffered unprecedented hardship in recent months, but they can successfully mitigate the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by caring for their own emotional well-being and supporting those they love. Though we live in a challenging time in our nation’s history, he encourages the use of healthy coping mechanisms by Americans during this difficult time.
As Covid-19 spread across the United States, the prevalence of depressive symptoms increased more than threefold. A recent study in the journal JAMA measures this trend. According to a separate study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, some high-risk groups, such as health care workers and younger people, were even more at risk for anxiety or depression due to the pandemic.
We still have to exercise regularly in order to improve our mood and mental health — whether it’s running, running, yoga, weight training, or tai chi. The exercise was found to be as effective as antidepressants and psychotherapy in the treatment of depression in the year 2016, meta-analysis of data from 23 random controlled trials.
Although endorphins play an important role, exercising also results in important structural changes in the brain, most notably in the hippocampus, a primitive brain structure. Memory formation and emotion regulation are tightly regulated by the hippocampus, as well as another brain structure called the amygdala.
As research demonstrates, regular exercise like running, walking or swimming helps reduce inflammation and build nerves in the hippocampal area, affecting mood, memory, as well as anxiety. Psychological conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder can be a result of hippocampus shrinkage.
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