Practice Cold Water Swimming
Cold water bathing is a growing movement built on the principle that repeated exposure to cold water changes the way the body deals with stress. Devotees say daily swims or cold showers give them a rush that lasts hours, and in some cases dramatically improves their ability to manage depression.
Having experienced the stagnancy and lethargy of the pandemic restrictions, I know now that I must take the initiative to shift out of un-serving patterns I’ve developed over that past year. I want to prevent the mental and physical health conditions that we currently face as a collective here in 2020.
I want to take back control of my health and do what I can to strengthen my immune system.
So my partner and I decided to challenge ourselves to an early morning dips in the ocean 3 times a week for the next two months to experience the health benefits for ourselves.
Here is why you too should consider this practice too…
8 Benefits of Cold Water Swimming
1. It boosts your immune system
The effects of cold water on the immune system have been studied widely. Cold water helps to boost the white blood cell count because the body is forced to react to changing conditions. Over time, your body becomes better at activating its defences.
2. It gives you a natural high
Cold water swimming activates endorphins. This chemical is what the brain produces to make us feel good during activities. Cold water swimming is also a form of exercise, and exercise has been proven to treat depression. Cold water swimming brings us close to the pain barrier. Endorphins are released when we’re in pain, to help us cope with it.
3. It improves your circulation
Cold water swimming flushes your veins, arteries, and capillaries. It forces blood to the surface and helps to warm our extremities. Repeated exposure adapts us to the cold.
4. It increases your libido
A dip in some cold water boosts estrogen and testosterone production, adding an edge to fertility and libido.
The benefits of increased libido include more confidence, higher self-esteem, and enhanced mood.
5. It burns calories
The heart has to pump faster in cold water and the body must work harder to keep everything warm while swimming. Overall, far more calories are burned during cold water swimming than swimming in warmer conditions. The idea that drinking cold water increases the number of calories you burn may be a myth, but it is a fact that cold water decreases your body temperature so much that the body must act.
6. It reduces stress
Cold water swimming places stress on the body physically and mentally. Many studies have identified the link between cold water and stress reduction. Cold water swimmers become calmer and more relaxed.
Just Do It
Apparently the secret to acclimatizing to cold water is just to swim in it, often – at least once a week, and preferably two or three, gradually extending the time that you stay in the water. Get out if you are not comfortable, and don’t set time goals for staying in the water.
This inspiring short documentary captures the inspiration of cold water swimming and wisdom of our elders. “When you are old like I am, you’ve seen the good and the bad in life. It’s the small things make you glad.”
Once you exit the water, you continue to cool for approximately 20-30 minutes. This means that your deep body temperature will be cooler 20-30 minutes after your swim than your were when you got out of the water. In other words, warming up immediately after your swim is vital.
The safest way to rewarm is to:
- Dry off and remove your wet clothes as soon as possible
- Dress in dry warm clothes, including hat gloves and thick socks – ideally lay these out in advance so you can do this quickly
- Have a warm drink
- Shiver (shivering is good – as you rewarm you will shiver less)
We would love to hear from you! Please comment below with any questions you may have or your experience with cold water swimming.
Lynne Carroll is former Hydrotherapy Instructor a the WWCMT. She respects the healing qualities of water and see’s the benefits of combining hydrotherapy treatments with regular massage therapy.