If you’re a swimmer, you’re going to love this. It’s going to make you smarter, we promise!

It’s no secret that pretty much any type of exercise will help grow new brain cells and make you smarter, but swimming might offer up some extraordinary cognitive benefits above the regular old running, biking, or hiking. 

Neurobiologist, Seena Mathew, has written an in-depth article published on The Conversation whereby she takes a deep dive into fascinating science that shows spending some time swimming your way across the pool can boost memory, kill stress, improve cognitive performance, and help ward off dementia. 

None of this is new, but where does swimming come into play?

Research suggests that swimming might be better for your brain than any other type of exercise. 

In one study, scientists made rats swim for an hour a day while periodically testing them by navigating a maze. 

Mathew stated in the article, “After just seven days of swim training, researchers saw improvements in both short and long term memories, based on a reduction in the errors rats made each day.” 

The researchers were surprised because the improvements went beyond what they expected just from the rats being more active. It’s not just in rats either. 

Mathew explained, “Although the leap from studies in rats to humans is substantial, research in people is producing similar results that suggest a clear cognitive benefit from swimming across all ages.” 

Another study comparing swimmers with athletes in non-water sports showed swimming seems to give the brain an extra boost. Still, another study looked at the ability of kids to memorize vocabulary after swimming, coloring, and doing a CrossFit-like activity. Unsurprisingly, the kids performed better at remembering many more words after swimming. “These findings imply that swimming for even short periods of time is highly beneficial to young, developing brains,” Mathew claims. 

Mathew noted that there is still much work to be done to confirm these results and understand why swimming might be among the best types of exercise for your brain.

There’s still plenty of sunshine left in this sweltering summer. The next time you find yourself splashing around, be sure to pat yourself on the back for a job well done on growing new and improved brain cells. 

Sources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-adult-brain-does-grow-new-neurons-after-all-study-says/
https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/how-to-use-exercise-to-optimize-your-brain.html
https://theconversation.com/swimming-gives-your-brain-a-boost-but-scientists-dont-know-yet-why-its-better-than-other-aerobic-activities-164297
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/maze-test
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jar/2012/273185/
https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14247
https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2021_JSLHR-20-00359

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