Benefits of Activities near in or under water

(cold water) Swimming

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“Swimming stretches my body beyond its earthly limits, helping to soothe every ache and caress every muscle. But it's also an inward journey, a time of quiet contemplation, when, encased in an element at once hostile and familiar, I find myself at peace”  
Swim: why we love water, L. Sherr

 
You don’t need much to go swimming other than a swimsuit and some sort of water: either a pool, a river, a lake, a pond or the sea. No matter where you are, there will be some sort of water where you can manage to take a few laps. Swimming is something that is often thought to us when we were young. We also often forget that we all have lived for 9 months in a similar amniotic fluid as the ocean in our mother's belly before we are born. 
 
Swimming creates both brain strength and at the same time, it relaxes the mind. When you swim, the water is providing a form of resistance for the muscles to work against and it thus stimulates circulation and mobility.
 
When we talk about swimming, it is not only in a swimming pool or a warm ocean. Coldwater swimming is now more popular than ever, do you know some of the benefits of cold water swimming?
 
- It boosts your immune system
- It activates endorphins
- It improves circulation
- It increases your libido, and thus your own self-esteem
- It burns calories
- It provides a pain relief 
- It reduces stress

Recreational fishing

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish that they are after”  Henry David Thoreau
 
Did you ever go fishing as a child? Can you remember why you did that? Was it for catching a fish or was it because of the feeling you got from it? Fishing is about having patience, it distracts your brain from the worries you might have since the focus is on your fishing gear. Fishing is about slowing down at the moment, creating a memory with your loved ones or having a moment for yourself. It has a positive impact on mental health. All around the world fishing is used as a recreational sport and therapy as it can be enjoyed by people living with mental and physical disabilities. 

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Surfing

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“Once you surf, it’s about the next wave you are going to catch because you always want more, like a drug.”   Blue Mind, W.J. Nichols
 
Surfing is never the same; one time the waves are perfect, the other time they are messy. The ocean can be unpredictable and different every time: the size of the swell, the power of the wind, the temperature, and the currents are always changing. The feeling of being on your board in the water, even if you do not catch many waves, this by itself can already have a calming effect. 
 
Catching a wave most of the time gives you a burst of dopamine. When focussing on the next wave, your brain can relax and does not have to think about how you are feeling, your to-do list or other everyday stressors. You can let go of everything and be present in the moment. If you get distracted, you either miss the perfect wave or get crushed under the newly entering set. 
 
Surf therapy can be used as a way to help people cope with PTSD, depression, anxiety, autism, and other mental health issues. The goal is not to teach people how to surf, but to use surfing as a tool to change the brain chemistry: different feelings and emotions are present when paddling out when you catch a wave or just when laying in the line-up waiting for the next wave to come. After a surf session, you can see and notice that the people who went in the water, that they are calmer, more at ease, quieter and happier. 

Scuba/free diving

Just you, the ocean and the fish you will encounter. Being underwater is like a meditation. When scuba diving, the only thing you need to do is breathe. Your breath controls the closeness to the ocean floor, you are constantly hearing your own breath, the calming sensation of flying underwater.
Similar, but somewhat different when freediving, you take a few deep breaths on the surface and dive deep underwater - you do however not have the scuba gear with you, just a mask, a tube, some weights and fins. You use the weight of your body and the pressure of the ocean to go deeper into the depths. You need to stay focussed, relaxed and have a state of peace and calmness, you surrender yourself to the ocean and become part of it as you depend on the oxygen inhaled before going underwater.
 
Possible benefits of this sport that you get from it are stress-relief, lower pressure on your joints, more self-confidence, improved and higher focus, lower anxiety and a clearer state of mind. 

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Read more about the health benefits of physical activity near blue spaces