As summer heats up, nothing beats water to keep you hydrated and cool, and to boost your well-being.
Here in the Lowcountry we are surrounded by water—beautiful beaches, winding waterways and meandering creeks. And many of us take advantage of the recreational opportunities that offers as often as possible, especially in the summer. We play, swim and surf in the ocean; we fish, paddle, sail and boat in our harbors, waterways and creeks; we splash and swim laps in area pools and waterparks. All of which keeps us in better shape physically, but also mentally.
Research confirms what many of us know through personal experience: being around and in water is relaxing and soothing, a refreshing balm for body, mind and spirit.
According to Roper St. Francis affiliated vascular surgeon Dr. Edward Morrison, an avid swimmer, exercising in the pool helps reduce stress and improve his concentration. “The physical exercise produces feel-good endorphins, while the focus and concentration required to move through the water takes my mind off of work,” says Dr. Morrison, who swims three or four mornings a week, averaging two miles each workout.
Even just looking at water and hearing it can be a mental balm. A study included in the book Blue Mind found that cancer patients with chronic pain experienced a 20 to 30 percent reduction in stress hormones after watching and listening to a video of waves, waterfalls and splashing creeks. Researchers have also found that the sound of ocean waves can alter a person’s brain, lulling them into relaxation.
But for ultimate enjoyment and mental and physical refreshment, dive in. Being submerged in water sends a signal to the brain to increase the hormone level of catecholamine, which regulates arterial function and blood flow. “It benefits your body in the same way that meditation and relaxation exercises do,” adds Dr. Morrison.
So take advantage of all the benefits of being near the water this summer. Go for a swim or a splash, and let water work its wonders.