Londoner backs #LoveSwimming mental health campaign
PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 October 2018
A Stepney woman has given her support to a national campaign highlighting the benefits of swimming for mental health.
Sylvia suffered severe burns after an accident as a child and struggled with anxiety, depression and PTSD for much of her teen and early adult years.
But since accepting the way she looks and to regain confidence, she has set up fortnightly swim groups for others with body disfigurement.
“It’s fantastic to have been asked to be part of the campaign and share the importance swimming has had on my mental wellbeing,” she said.
“I was a competitive swimmer for many years but lacked body confidence due to my scars. I would hold back in competitions so as not to be seen on the rostrum receiving medals but once I was in the water, all of my self-hating disappeared.
“The effects of swimming are limitless. Besides health and fitness benefits, I believe that swimming was the only thing in my life that I truly loved. My mental health went downhill when I stopped swimming but as soon as I was back in the pool, I was at my happiest.”
Sylvia’s story is part of a wider campaign by Swim England and 12 partners. The governing body, as part of the #LoveSwimming campaign, released the results of a new poll which highlights swimming as a key activity in aiding mental wellbeing.
Up to 1.4 million British adults believe swimming significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, while almost half a million with mental health problems who swim say they have reduced the number of visits to a medical professional regarding their mental health condition thanks to swimming.
Over 497,000 people reduced or no longer take medication for their mental health condition as a result of swimming.
Elaine McNish, head of health and wellbeing at Swim England said: “A lot of people have concerns about discussing mental health issues. Having the support of Sylvia is fantastic. By sharing her experience, she hopes to inspire others to try swimming to help their mental wellness.”
Hayley Jarvis, head of physical activity for mental health charity Mind, added: “We know physical activities like swimming is good for our bodies, but our physical and mental health are closely linked and we know from our own Get Set to Go programme that being physically active can also be very beneficial for our mental health too.
“If you’re more active there’s good evidence to suggest that at most ages, there’s a trend towards lower rates of depression. In fact, one study has found that by increasing your activity levels from doing nothing, to exercising at least three times a week, you can reduce your risk of depression by up to 30 per cent.”
To find out more about swimming facilities near you, visit swimming.org/poolfinder #LoveSwimming.