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BBC Radio 1 Life Hacks podcast about mental health benefits of swimming

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This post first appeared on the Swim England website.

A new Radio 1 podcast features the positive benefits swimming and aquatic activity can have on mental health.

Author Libby Page and Swim England Health and Wellbeing manager Ali Noyce were invited on to the Life Hacks Getting Wet For My Mind podcast, hosted by Katie Thistleton and Dr Radha Modgil.

Libby, whose debut novel the Lido is on sale now, talked about how swimming made her feel saying: “It disconnects you in a way that other activities don’t.

“The fact that you have to leave your phone on the side and there’s no distractions, you’re just completely in the water and feeling all the sensations of your body.

“It makes all your problems that are left on the poolside or left on the bank of the river feel very far away suddenly.”

Libby also spoke about how she gave up swimming as a teenager because she was body conscious – but realises now there was no reason to stop.

“As a teenager, I stopped swimming entirely because the thought of being seen in a swimming costume was just my absolute worst nightmare and I hated my body for no particular reason other than I was a teenager,” she said.

“But now it’s completely transformed the way I feel about my body.

“I think when you go swimming and getting changed in a communal changing room, you realise that this idea of a one perfect body that you might be aspiring to absolutely does not exist.

“You also realise that people aren’t looking at you. People are there to swim, they’re there to do an activity, no one’s judging you in the way that you might feel that they are or fear that they are – they’re just there to swim.”

According to research conducted last year, 26 per cent of people who go swimming felt more motivated to complete daily tasks and 15 per cent believe life feels more manageable.

In addition to this, swimming has significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety or depression for 1.4 million adults in Britain.

Ali said: “We’re really keen on not just talking about swimming, it’s about aquatic activity for all people.

“One in four adults in the UK can’t swim 25 metres so it’s not necessarily just about getting in the water to swim – it;s about getting in the water and having all the benefits of that.

“We already know that getting in the water and doing some sort of activity reduces stress, it reduces anxiety and lowers the blood pressure, increases your bone strength.

“So for those people that struggle to exercise on dry land, you’re 90 per cent buoyant and it’s so much easier.”

You can now download the full BBC Radio 1 Life Hacks podcast on the BBC Sounds App.