If you’re living with depression or anxiety, you may have heard that exercising helps to manage symptoms. Is it also the case with swimming?

Both anxiety and depression benefit from professional support. It’s possible to manage symptoms and find relief. Self-care in the way of nutrition and exercising can help as well.

Swimming for anxiety and depression is a science-backed strategy to help you cope with symptoms. But you may want to keep a few things in mind before starting.

Swimming can help you improve your overall and mental health.

As with most other forms of exercise, swimming promotes the release of “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins and dopamine. These natural substances have a direct effect on your mood, helping you calm down and feel cheerful.

Exercise can also improve the production of serotonin, which also improves your mood.

Swimming can also help your body fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Free radicals are unstable compounds that may damage your cells, including your brain cells. People with depression often have higher levels of oxidative stress.

Taking a dip in the pool may also reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels occur when you’re feeling anxious or stressed. When you’re calm and relaxed, cortisol levels are low.

Studies show that swimming can be a powerful tool to manage depression symptoms.

In a 2020 study, a 10-week swim program helps participants reduce fatigue, anger, and symptoms of depression. It also improved mood and a sense of well-being.

An extensive review of multiple studies also found that swimming significantly reduces symptoms of depression and improves mood. In two of the studies, participants reported nearly 80% improvement in symptoms.

A few case reports also report that open-water swimming may help some people with major depressive disorder reduce the need for antidepressant medication after following a consistent program.

Older adults who may have difficulty swimming may still see improvements in depression symptoms from engaging in regular water exercises.

Evidence indicates that regular physical activity, in general, boosts your mood, helps you cope with stress, and reduces your signs of anxiety. Swimming is no exception.

Research shows that swimming consistently helps reduce signs of anxiety by helping you manage the stress response. The release of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine also helps you feel more at ease.

Swimming may also help you feel more grounded because, besides having the benefits of physical activity, it may engage your senses, which can help you manage anxiety.

If you’re trying to manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, a regular swimming routine can help.

It’s highly advisable that you consult with a health professional before engaging in any exercise routine, particularly if you’re not used to having one. They can help you come up with an individualized plan that responds to your needs.

Initially, consider practicing swimming for two and half hours per week.

Research suggests that each session should last between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on your fitness level and needs.

If possible for you, try to swim at a moderate to high intensity pace. You could swim to your max capacity for 30 seconds and then swim at a slow pace for 1 minute. If not possible, low intensity swimming can also offer mental health benefits. You may just want to add a few more minutes per week.

Swimming in cold water may also offer additional benefits for your mood.

Living with symptoms of anxiety or depression can impact all levels of your life. Both anxiety and depressive disorders often require professional support to avoid the intensification of symptoms.

Even though self-care is key in managing your mood, seeking the help of a mental health professional is highly advisable.

Traditional treatments may include psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication.