This title is misleading. Exercising in any form will stimulate the growth of brain cells, and can make you smarter. This is what extensive research has proven. What’s the special thing about swimming?
That’s the topic of a new, in-depth article on The Conversation written by neurobiologist (and avid recreational swimmer) Seena Mathew. In it she digs into new but intriguing science that shows spending some time splashing your way across the pool may offer unique cognitive benefits beyond what you get when you go for a run, hike, or ride a bike.
Swimming is the best exercise for your brain.
For those interested in the neuroscience (or looking for some motivation to get to the gym), Mathew’s article goes in-depth about the good things that happen in your brain when you do any sort of aerobic exercise, (I’ve written about this before here on Inc.com too.) The bottom line is that working out can improve memory, reduce stress and cognitive performance.
This is quite a impressive list. Research suggests that swimming may be more beneficial for the brain than any other type of exercise. Research with rats is the most convincing evidence. One study involved forcing rats to swim an hour per day, while scientists periodically tested their memories by having them navigate through a maze.
Mathew reported that after just seven days of swimming training, scientists saw improvement in short- and long term memories. This was based on the reduction in errors rats made every day. The improvements were more than you would expect from rats being active.
It’s cute to see rats doing laps, but what does that say about us humans? Mathew says it does. Mathew writes that although the leap in studies from rats to humans was substantial, similar research is being done in humans and suggests a cognitive benefit of swimming for all ages.
A study that compared swimmers to athletes in other sports found swimming gives the brain an additional boost. A second study examined the children’s ability to remember vocabulary when they do Crossfit activities like coloring or swimming. Swimming helped children remember more words. Mathew asserts that even swimming for a short time can be very beneficial for young brains.
You can come in now, it’s great!
Mathew says that there’s still work to do to verify these findings and to understand why swimming is one of the most beneficial types of exercise. But if you’re among those reading this in a place where this summer has been especially broiling, there is no need to wait for confirmation before hitting the pool, beach, or lake.
Swimming is a wonderful way to stay fit and cool. You can now celebrate your brain’s good fortune by diving in next time.
Publiated at Thu, 05 August 2021 11:39.25 (+0000).