Cold Water Swimming Can Improve Health and Vigor
Cold water swimming can be very beneficial to long term optimum health. Routine swimming in cold water can (i) boost metabolism, (ii) improve blood circulation,(iii) help build and maintain a strong immune system, (iv) improve skin tone and skin health, (v) improve libido and fertility, (vi) release endorphins to improve feeling of wellness and vigor, and (vii) encourages good sleep.
Cold water swimming is enjoyable year round from Melbourne to Scandinavia, Washington State to England and Ireland, and San Francisco to Germany. For most, cold water swimming is swimming in water under 60 degrees F (15 degrees C ) without a wetsuit. For others, it is swimming under 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). For the most hardy, swimming under 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) is an invigorating challenge.
Some Tips and Precautions First!
Before taking the plunge, it is important to understand some of the dangers of cold water swimming! Here are some precautionary considerations and some tips:
Cold water baths or swimming in cold water boosts Metabolism through increased blood circulation and increasing metabolic activity focused on generating internal heat to keep our body warm.
Stimulates Parasympathetic System Releases Endorphins to Feel Well and Vigorous
Cold water also stimulates our parasympathetic system, which is responsible for rest and repair. This stimulation can trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are a vital part of keeping us happy and low levels of them are linked with depression.There is a natural high that comes from the rush of endorphins on entering the water. The endorphin rush happens quickly and makes you feel alive and happy!
Improves Blood Circulation
Evidence also demonstrates that your body adapts to the cold with repeated exposure and this may improve your circulation to your core and to your extremities. Cold water swims or baths helps flush your circulation by pushing blood through all your capillaries, veins and arteries. The rapid initial cooling of the skin triggers various heart and breathing responses. Breathing rates will increase suddenly. The heart rate can increase by 50% and blood pressure increase can increase to 175/93. Although a substantial strain on the heart, these changes are not likely to be a problem for a healthy, fit person but may be dangerous for those with underlying heart disease or hypertension.
Improves Libido and Fertility
Researchers have also found that cold water swimming and bathing can increase production of testosterone and estrogen in men and women respectively. In addition to enhancing libido in both sexes, these hormones also play an important role in fertility.
Improves Skin Health and Tone
Cold water swimming or baths will exfoliate and cleanse your skin by flushing impurities from it, therby helping your complexion and skin tone. I've noticed my skin feels clean and vibrant after taking a swim in cold water and looks more healthy.
Helps Build and Maintain Strong Immune System
Scientists from the Czech Republic immersed witting subjects in cold water for one hour, three times a week and monitored their physiology. They found significant increases in white blood cell counts and several other factors relating to the immune system. This was attributed to the cold water being a mild stressor which activates the immune system and gives it some practice through stress. It also seems likely the increased blood circulation the vital organs also improve the immune system. Swimmers in general and cold water swimmers in particular seem to come down with fewer colds.
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Articles on Swimming, Cold Water Swimming and Natural Health
5 Health Benefits of Cold Water Swimming, Tim Moss, The Next Challenge
Hydration and Electrolytes - Impact on Athletic Performance, Paul Bennett, Jr., Ph.D., 1Vigor.com
Swimming Hydration and Electrolyte Strategies - Improved Performance and Muscle Cramp Prevention, Ralph Teller, 1Vigor.com
Cold Swimming: Come on In, the Water's Icy, The Independent
Cold Showers: What’s the Evidence?, Own Your Health