Cold water swimming is increasing in popularity and momentum and can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone.
It can be traced back to Ancient Greece when using cold water was commonly used to soothe muscle fatigue and other health ailments.
You may also know cold water swimming, as winter swimming, ice swimming, wild swimming, or cold-water therapy, and it is exactly what it sounds like.
You immerse yourself in cold water, usually in the sea, a river, or a lake. This offers the chance to enjoy fresh air away from chlorinated waters, and when done regularly can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on our health.
The benefits are widely acknowledged and documented by health and medical experts across the globe. Research by Swim England, for example, found that of those who swim in cold water regularly, 43 per cent said it made them feel happier, 26 per cent felt more motivated to complete daily tasks, and 15 per cent said life felt more manageable after cold water therapy.
Instant mood boost
Cold water swimming can produce a natural high because it activates endorphins, the chemical produced by the brain to make us feel good. In addition, cold water swimming is exercise, and exercise has been long been proven to lift the mood.
Improves the immune system
Studies have found regular immersion in cold water may help boost the white blood cell count. This is because the body reacts to changing conditions and, over time, becomes better at activating its defences.
Cold water pushes your circulatory system into overdrive, so your body increases blood flow to protect vital organs and warm your core. This stimulates blood flow, which is good for your circulation, and overall health.
Eases aches and pains
It’s no secret that cold water and ice is often used by high-performing athletes to help muscular aches and pains. Immersing yourself in cold water constricts your blood vessels, so swelling in your muscles reduce easing those aches and pains.
A swim in the sea is a great way to connect with nature and disengage from daily stresses and struggles. Nature, or vitamin N, is a great tonic helping us become more mindful of the present moment, reduces stress, and improves overall wellbeing.
Builds a sense of community
There is a great sense of camaraderie and community when we swim together outdoors. There really is nothing better than sharing an experience and overcoming challenges together!
Cold water dipping FAQs
When you’re ready to take the plunge, it's important to remember:
Acclimatize. Begin in the summer when waters are warmer and build up your tolerance over time. Entering waters below 10°C can create a shock response causing numbness and pain in the hands and feet, and rapid breathing.
Warm up. Get warm straight away and stay warm for half an hour after your cold water swim. Remove all wet and cold clothing, wrap up, and sip on a hot drink.
Focus on your breathing. Cold water can cause your breathing to become shallow and fast so remember to have some calming breathing techniques to help relaxation.
Don't stay in too long. A few minutes is enough to feel the benefits, especially if you're new to cold water swimming
Rest. Cold water swimming is a vigorous activity so make sure you take time afterwards to recover.
Be wary of the risks. Do get medical advice before winter swimming if you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, asthma, or are pregnant.
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