With the sound of water splashing in the background, Dr Michael Mosley has kicked off his Just One Thing podcast episode with an activity that “is really good for the body and the brain”.
“On top of that, it’s been shown to improve things like memory and reaction times,” the doctor said.
There’s no doubt that exercise has positive effects on brain health, but the podcast host recommended swapping land for water if you want to reap “remarkable health benefits”.
In fact, swimming or even moving around in the water could be “good for your brain power”.
And Dr Mosley isn’t the only one to back this claim.
Just seven days of swim training in animal models has been shown to improve memory.
“Although the leap from studies in rats to humans is considerable, research in people is producing similar results,” the health guru added.
For example, a small study from New Zealand found that just 20 minutes of swimming boosted brain function and produced slightly faster reaction times in humans.
The doctor explained that one of the reasons why the water activity is so beneficial comes down to it being a “good all-over workout”.
“When you are swimming vigorously, you’re using lots of different muscle groups and importantly you’re working against the weight of the water.”
According to Professor Hirofumi Tanaka, from the University of Texas at Austin, who appeared on the BBC Radio 4 podcast, your position also seems to play a role.
The expert, who studies the health benefits of swimming, explained that the supine position is more beneficial for the brain compared to upright exercises like walking and cycling.
What’s more, water immersion actually seems to boost your brain power.
“Research suggests that the cognitive function gets improved when you’re in the water,” Professor Tanaka said.
Therefore, the podcast guest recommended swimming three times a week. He said: “You can start out with a very short period – maybe 20 to 30 minutes would be sufficient.”
The key thing is to keep moving in the water so you can reap the potent health effects.
Dr Mosley added: “Take the plunge – you could get big benefits for your blood vessels, your brain and your heart.”