Regular swimming has reduced the symptoms of anxiety and depression for more than one million adults in Britain, according to new research.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by Swim England, has found that almost half a million people with mental health conditions who swim at least once every two to three weeks have reduced the number of visits to a medical professional regarding their mental health.

Ian Cumming, chair of the Swimming and Health Commission, said: "Physical activity in any form can have a positive impact on a person's mental health, but swimming is unique because the buoyancy of water ensures everyone is able to take part at a pace that suits them. It is particularly good for people with restricted movement.

"People relax in many different ways. Some set a target and aim to beat their time while others prefer a more leisurely swim on their own or with friends.

"Swimming provides that choice, and if it is regularly prescribed alongside other forms of support, swimming could have a real impact on wider society."

The YouGov research is part of Swim England's #LoveSwimming 'Escape' campaign. It shows around 3.3 millions British adults with mental health conditions swim at least once every two to three weeks.

Of those surveyed, 43 per cent of this group of regular swimmers said it makes them feel happier, 26 per cent were more motivated to complete daily tasks and 15 per cent believe life feels more manageable.