Picture a quiet and still body of water as the sun rises and reflects in the ripples, accompanied by a gentle breeze and early morning birdsong. If that sounds inviting to you, so much so that you’d rather not just enjoy the scene from the waterside, you might just have the makings of a wild swimmer. And lucky you - because the cold water swimming benefits are plentiful and worth that initial gasp to get to the giddy glee of cold water therapy.
Cold Water Swimming Benefits: Improved Circulation
Cold water swimming isn’t just good fun. It’s good for your body and mind, too! Cold water immersion is documented to stimulate blood flow and thus, improve your circulation. When your body first enters cold water, it has a physiological reaction. The blood rushes through your body to surround your vital organs and keep them warm, so your heart pumps blood more efficiently through all your vessels. Your whole body is being supplied with the oxygen and nutrients it needs through your blood. A daily dip, as per the Wim Hof method, will see your tolerance to cold water increase and your circulation gradually improve to ultimately help towards achieving a healthy body. Some studies have even suggested cold water swimming benefits your immune system and boosts your metabolism.
Cold Water Swimming Benefits: Anxiety-Reduction
But most swimmers will tell you the primary benefit of cold water has been within their minds. To safely enjoy your cold water swimming benefits, you must first master your breathing. This is so your body can regulate after the initial shock of the cold water upon entry. The Iceman, Wim Hof is famous for promoting a combination of mindfulness, meditation and cold water immersion to achieve optimum wellness. This holistic approach, taking into account proven breathing therapies, can help you manage anxiety and even, anecdotally, some swimmers say they’ve been able to alleviate depression with the giddy joy of an outdoor dip. It’s worth mentioning here that the outdoor swimming community is a particularly supportive and welcoming space and, should you decide to take it up, you’ll no doubt make lifelong friends in the process.
Cold Water Swimming Benefits: Connection to Nature
The benefits of enjoying a deeper connection with nature are well-documented. Nature can help you become more mindful of your present moment, as well as reduce stress and give you a break from the things in day-to-day life that might be causing you mental anguish. One way of experiencing this connection with nature — and disconnecting from your daily struggles — is by going for a swim or a dip outdoors.
Cold Water Swimming Benefits: Hair Growth Stimulation
A more superficial advantage, you might think. But some swimmers claim their self-esteem has been transformed by boosted hair growth thanks to cold water. Likewise, some health influencers claim cold water swimming benefits the clarity and complexion of their skin. This could, of course, be a by-product of the other benefits discussed in this blog and it’s worth noting that there is no scientific evidence behind either of these claims.
Cold Water Swimming Benefits: Chronic Pain Management
Chronic pain can be a debilitating, uphill struggle with few curative options in the way of pain management. Some sufferers have found cold water swimming benefits and alleviates their symptoms, with anecdotal evidence showing it improves lethargy and helps with aches and pains by reducing swelling and inflammation. Lady Gaga famously uses cold water therapy to manage her fibromyalgia. Cold water swimming benefits muscular pain, also, and is often employed as a technique by high-performing athletes in recovery. Ice baths can help reduce muscle damage by suppressing the immune system’s response to muscle pain in short term recovery from cardio activity. Well, if it works for LeBron James and Usain Bolt…
Cold Water Swimming Benefits: Body Love
Cold water swimming benefits your body in many ways. But it also requires your body to go through extremes. While this might not suit everyone’s mentality - or be safe for those with existing conditions - for some, the opportunity to push your physicality in new ways can offer new perspectives on the power of your body. Equally, it can be incredibly empowering for those who may not feel comfortable in their own skin to strip down to a swimming costume and, thanks to the cold, quickly forget the shame or embarrassment this might cause in a more public place, like the gym.
Across the UK, many of the most beautiful and tranquil cold water swimming spots don’t require you to swim miles or have a high level of fitness. In this respect, cold water swimming benefits those who might feel sports or outdoors pursuits were inaccessible to them. There’s no doubt that those who enjoy other cold water swimming benefits might also feel that they learn to love and appreciate themselves a little bit more with each dip.
So, what are you waiting for? Make like Wim Hof and embrace these wonderful cold water swimming benefits. Before you take the plunge, we recommend you also check out our top tips for staying safe in the cold water and consult your doctor if you have any questions or existing health conditions.