The facts about swimming and dementia

It’s no secret that swimming brings a range of mental health benefits, so much so that we focused the third wave of our #LoveSwimming campaign around it. But what are the facts about swimming and dementia?

Read on to find out how swimming can have a positive impacts on people living with dementia. We’ve also provided tips for next time you head to the pool.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a common condition that affects about 850,000 people living in England. Your risk of developing dementia increases as you get older and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65.

The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. These changes are often small to start with, but for someone with dementia they have become severe enough to affect daily life. A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.

What you need to know about swimming and dementia

  • Swimming can offer a sense of mental wellbeing, something which cannot be easily measured but is often anecdotally mentioned by participants.
  • It clears the mind, encourages positivity and builds a sense of self-worth.
  • Swimming can soothe agitation and reduce anxiety, relax the body, supporting the body in a relatively weightless environment.
  • Swimming pools are meeting points, which can reduce loneliness, introduce you to friends and offer opportunities to socialise.

Tips for swimming with dementia

These four tips are for any swimmer living with dementia, or for your carer.

  1. Do ask for a familiarisation session at the pool where you want to participate. This will allow you, or your carer, to ask all the questions you need to.
  2. Don’t feel that because of a diagnosis you have to stop doing activities you enjoy or trying new things.
  3. If you can’t be active because of joint pain, do take part in swimming as it’s a low impact form of activity, so it’s easy on your joints.
  4. Do seek the advice of a medical professional if you have any concerns.

Additional Advice

You can find out more about swimming and dementia on our Dementia Friendly Swimming Hub.

Health Fact Sheets

Swim England’s Health Commission group have developed a range of fact sheets on swimming with particular health conditions, written for competitive swimmers, the general public and to also assist those who support or advise swimmers.

Listed below is the current fact sheet library for people with health conditions.

To view and download fact sheets written specifically for people who support or advise swimmers, head to our Health and Wellbeing pages.

Health Fact Sheets