Is Swimming Beneficial to Recovery from Addiction?

Here is a quick summary on why swimming is beneficial for recovery from addiction:

  • Swimming is appropriate for all ages and sizes
  • Swimming is easier on the body than other forms of exercise
  • Swimming can be cardio and strength building
  • Swimming reduces premature death
  • Swimming creates a world of opportunity

Swimming Can Help Recovery

Being immersed in water triggers the brain with the familiar feelings of calm and protection experiences as developing infants in the womb. Our pH levels regulate and our brain releases when we are submerged in water. Some people really hate the water and have water phobias or water anxiety.

However, for a majority of people, the water is deeply enjoyable and chemically transformative for the brain and the body. Spending time swimming and moving around the pool is comfortable and relaxing which helps to reduce anxiety.  

Water is Good For Dopamine Production

The weightless gravity of water helps support all kinds of bodies get exercise, stretch, move, be fluid, and enjoy the benefits of water. Being in water is good for dopamine production because it makes people happy and more connected.

Time spent in water is actually known to increase tendencies toward compassion, altruism, and conservancy. Meaning, people who spend time in water are more encouraged to take care of themselves, take care of others, and take care of the planet.

Being In the Water Is Therapeutic

Water can also be therapeutic for people in recovery from addiction. Being in the water can mean structured water aerobics, swimming laps, or just having fun. People in addiction have often suffered trauma since their childhoods and they aren’t able to connect to having fun anymore.

All of the neural pathways in their brain relating to pleasure and reward are based on the consumption of drugs and alcohol because that is what they turned to in order to cope with the trauma they experienced and possibly experienced ongoing. Swimming like a fish, playing games, jumping into a big cannonball into the pool, getting in a splash fight, playing games like “marco polo”- all of these nuances of childhood are healing for people in recover.

They’re learning how to have fun in new ways that don’t require drugs and alcohol. It’s so simple it would be hard for anyone else to understand. Addicts and alcoholics are essentially fish out of water who got used to struggling for air. Plunged back beneath the surface, they are able to breathe freely, and thrive.


Lakehouse Recovery Center boasts a beautiful lake front location on the serene Lake Sherwood in Westlake Village. Our large, peaceful home is equipped with access to the lake and an Olympic size pool on property. Offering residential treatment programs for men and women, our approach to treatment is to heal the mind, the body, and the spirit by helping clients learn how to have fun again without drugs or alcohol. For information or to schedule a tour, call us today: 877.762.3707


Messages sent through this form are confidential. Required fields are marked with (*).

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.