Swimming just once every two to three weeks eases the symptoms of depression and anxiety for 1.4m Brits, according to a new You Gov poll commissioned by Swim England.
Four thousand British swimmers nationwide with diagnosed mental health problems were surveyed. The results were than scaled up to reflect the population of the UK.
It's thought 3.3m British swimmers with depression and anxiety hit the pool at least once a fortnight or every three weeks. More than 400,000 have been able to reduce visits to a medical professional, or cut down on medication to manage their conditions, by getting in the water regularly.
Forty-three percent said swimming made them happier, while more than a quarter are more motivated to complete daily tasks and 15 percent said life was more manageable.
The findings released today are very encouraging and support our work to create aquatic exercise classes that GPs and health professionals can recommend to people with mental health concerns," Swim England's Head of Health and Wellbeing Elaine McNish said at the launch of a new campaign to encourage more women to take up swimming for wellbeing.
One in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem every year according to charity Mind.
"We all know that doing physical activities like swimming is good for our bodies. However, our physical health 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," Hayley Jarvis, head of physical activity for Mind, said.
"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."
Regular exercise has long been considered essential for depression and anxiety sufferers. Earlier this year a study found the mental health benefits of going for a walkcan last up to seven hours and that running makes you a happier, more confident person.
A version of this article appeared on Net Doctor UK.