For years, the aquatics industry has trumpeted the health and wellness benefits of being in water.
Now, it has a best-selling, science-based book to back up those claims.
In 2014, marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols published Blue Mind. The book combines anecdotes and neuroscience to confirm something we’ve instinctively known all along — that we’re more relaxed when close to a body of water.
Blue Mind has subsequently sparked a movement that’s motivating people to find peace of mind in lakes, rivers, oceans and, yes, swimming pools. Given today’s hectic, stressful climate, Nichols proposes that these aquatic retreats are becoming increasingly important to one’s health.
“There’s a lot of red mind out there,” Nichols says of the high levels of anxiety that afflict so many.
The intention of Blue Mind is to spark a dialog across a variety of public and private sectors about the importance and preservation of water in the context of our own personal well-being. And the aquatics industry is among those leading the charge.
In recent years, aquatics professionals, industry organizations, pool builders, hot tub and float tank manufacturers began amplifying the message that water-based exercise and leisure is a critical component of any healthy lifestyle. Indeed, the word “wellness” has been the focus of whole marketing campaigns and trade shows.
Late last year, Nichols awarded the National Swimming Pool Foundation a Blue Mind award for funding studies exploring the physical and cognitive benefits of swimming.
“The basic idea is we’re calling on leadership in industries and nonprofits to take the science and apply it to what they do, and really begin by updating their talking points,” says Nichols, who is also the chief evangelist of water (a real title) for the water-monitoring devices Buoy. “I’d say the aquatics field has done a great job of that.”
Tom Lachocki, executive director of NSPF, is grateful the industry has an advocate in one of the world’s foremost water experts.
“Biology and neurology is on our side,” Lachocki says.
Given the success of the book — it’s a New York Times best seller — perhaps a movie was inevitable. A Blue Mind documentary is in development with an Indiegogo campaign aiming to raise $75,000 for the production. The film will feature stories from people whose lives have been positively impacted by water, as well as testimonies from professionals in the pool industry.
Nichols also organizes a series of summits inviting experts in neuroscience, conservation, art, architecture and other disciplines to discuss the connection between our brains and water. The eighth annual summit, titled Water is Medicine, is scheduled for June 7 at the Frost Museum of Science in Miami.
Ultimately, Blue Mind is changing the conversation around conservation. And swimming pools play a big role in that.
“When people learn to swim in a pool,” Nichols says, “it opens the world of water experiences to them which goes way beyond pools.”