Plunging into freezing water may seem like a bad idea at first, but it can deliver a plethora of benefits that might compel you to give it a try! Aside from bragging rights, an icy plunge has several physical and mental health benefits!
However, take note that once water temperature goes below 77 degrees Fahrenheit, your breathing gets affected. This makes it important to be equipped with the right clothes and master the right techniques to maximize cold water swimming health benefits.
Not convinced to go for a polar plunge? Read on and let’s talk about the benefits of swimming in cold water. These will give you good reasons to try cold water swimming today!
Here are the 10 Benefits of Swimming in Cold Water
Do not be discouraged by cold water! Yes, you might end up freezing and shivering. However, it has notable benefits that can compel you to take the plunge!
1. It Burns Calories
Wondering about how many calories do you burn while swimming? While this depends on a variety of factors, this can generally range from 200 to 900 calories per hour.
If you bring cold water into the picture, you will burn even more calories. This is because your body is working twice as hard to fight the freezing temperature. You are exerting more effort and using more muscles.
When you are swimming in cold water, your heart is pumping faster. Also, studies show that cold-water swimming activates a unique brown fat in your body. This raises the temperature of the body and supercharges your metabolism. In turn, this increases the calorie burn rate.
When you shiver, it is estimated that you are burning up to 100 calories within 15 minutes. This is a result of the secretion of a hormone called irisin. It produces heat from your fat cells, making swimming effective in your weight loss journey.
2. It Reduces Stress
When it comes to the cold water swimming health benefits, one undeniable thing is its ability to reduce stress. It improves your mental health and stress response. Coping with the temperature of the water can improve your ability to deal with the stress you experience in your life.
Once you plunge, the temperature will create a stress reaction in your body. This is similar to the way your body reacts to any other stressful situation that confronts you. The body releases cortisol, a stress hormone. Your heart rate and breathing frequency also increase. There were even some studies noting how cold-water swimming can be effective when dealing with depression.
Your stress reaction will recede the longer you stay in the water. Once the body acclimates to the temperature, it becomes easier to handle a situation you previously found to be stressful. This same principle can be applied in real-life situations when it comes to your approach to stress management.
3. It Boosts Your Immune System
Another good reason to don your swimsuits and swim jammers in cold water is that it is effective in boosting your immune system. This makes you less prone to sickness.
Regular immersion in cold water will boost the glutathione levels in your body. This antioxidant will be crucial in regulating the processes of the other antioxidants in the body. In turn, this will reduce the likelihood that you will get sick as it increases the defense of your immune system.
To add, the freezing temperature of the cold water also increases the count of your white blood cells. This happens as your body is forced to handle the cold. Over time, it mobilizes the immune system to ward off the causes of common health problems.
4. It Improves Mental Fortitude
When talking about the benefits of swimming in cold water, one thing that should not be ignored is its ability to improve mental fortitude, which also makes you calmer. It is one of the best mindfulness exercises!
To add to the many cold water swimming health benefits, it is also effective in improving mental alertness. It lets you think quickly about how to adapt to a specific situation that confronts you, especially a stressful one.
Some people also share how it is effective in lifting their brain fog. After a cold-water swim, they feel renewed mentally. They have a clearer mental perspective.
5. It Increases Blood Circulation
Good blood circulation is crucial for your health. It maintains a healthy flow of oxygen and blood. In turn, this improves the functioning of your heart, muscles, and lungs. It also fights off diseases. While there are many ways to boost blood circulation, one of the best is through an icy plunge.
Like sauna yoga and hot tub, one of the benefits of swimming in cold water is that it improves your blood flow. As your body experiences a change in temperature, it sends more blood to your body, which is how it boosts circulation.
One of the best practices is to swim in cold water and use a sauna after. It doesn’t matter whether it is an outdoor sauna, barrel sauna, or even infrared sauna blankets. The important thing is that there is a shift in temperature from water to land to improve blood circulation.
6. It Gives You a Natural High
One of the benefits of swimming in cold water is that it gives you a natural high. It is natural for cold-water swimmers to be calmed and relaxed. Aside from this, they also experience a natural high that makes them happy after they swim.
Some people may not believe the concept of post-swim high, but it happens. Coldwater exposure and physical activity increase the production of dopamine, which is recognized as a feel-good hormone. This is the hormone that makes you happy.
The release of endorphins is triggered not only by cold-water swimming but other physical activities as well. It provides a pain barrier and encourages the mind to lean towards happy thoughts. This is also the reason why it is a good exercise for depression. No wonder, many people also consider cold-water swimming as a natural painkiller.
To add, the stimulation of the parasympathetic system. This is responsible for the rest and repair of the body. Unsurprisingly, this can give you a warm glow and a positive disposition in your life.
7. It Boosts Your Libido
Another addition to the long list of cold water swimming health benefits is how it is good for your sex life. This is based on the assumption that it increases the presence of sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen), which translates into increased libido. In the long run, this also positively impacts fertility.
Increased libido is associated with several other benefits. For instance, it enhances self-confidence and improves mood.
This benefit is also related to how exercise improves your sex drive. It increases the sympathetic nervous system activity, which is responsible for sexual stimulation.
8. It Makes You Physically Fit
Like the health benefits of skiing and the health benefits of surfing, among other outdoor activities, one of the best cold-water swimming health benefits is that it improves your physical fitness. It is a good way to get in shape and tone your muscles, especially your core, legs, and arms, among other parts of the body.
When you are swimming in cold water, your body is working twice as hard as it would in normal water temperature. The greater force that you exert, it also becomes more extensive. Therefore, it has a higher impact on your physical fitness.
However, in the same way that it makes you physically fit, it is also important to take note of the physical demands of swimming in cold water. You need to be fit and healthy before you try it. It also helps to engage in fast and easy swimming warm-up exercises to condition your body before you take the plunge in cold water.
9. It Improves Your Skin and Hair
The list of the benefits of swimming in cold water will be incomplete without talking about your skin and hair health. This benefit is associated with how swimming in icy water improves blood circulation. It helps to flush toxins out of the body, and in turn, this will assume a crucial role in giving you healthier and radiant skin.
If you are swimming in cold open water or seawater, you will benefit from exposure to salt. It is potent with potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are good for your skin. It also improves the ability of the skin to heal. After swimming, apply aloe vera gel to help your skin soothe, even if there is no sun.
There are also claims about how cold-water swimming can help in exfoliation. To add, it can also be effective in getting rid of cellulite.
While improving the blood circulation, the benefit is apparent not only on the skin but also on your scalp and your hair. It gets the blood pumping on your scalp, which can make your skin healthier.
10. It Reduces Inflammation
Wrapping up our list of the benefits of swimming in cold water is its ability to reduce inflammation. Aside from harming your gut and joints, inflammation is also linked to heart diseases, cancer, and lung problems, among other health concerns.
When your body reacts to cold temperatures, it takes the blood away from your extremities. The limbs will also experience a low flow of blood. This allows for muscle recovery to be quicker. These are similar to the benefits that you can yield from an ice bath.
Q: Is Called Water Swimming Good for You?
Yes, cold water swimming is good for you. This is obvious by now given the physical and mental health benefits of swimming in cold water listed above.
Q: What Water Temperature is Too Cold Too Swim In?
When the water temperature is between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it is too cold for most people to swim in. It is very dangerous and immediately life-threatening.
Q: How Long Can You Swim in Cold Water?
This depends on several factors, such as your physical state of health and the specific temperature of the water. When the water is from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you can swim one to six hours on average.
If you want to swim longer, you need to train physically and mentally. While a fit body is a must, presence of mind is equally important so that you can act accordingly in cold water. Plus, you need to have the right clothes and gear.
Q: Do You Swim Slower in Cold Water?
You swim slower when the water is too cold. As the water gets colder, your blood vessels will dilate. This does not only make your movements slower, but it also increases the risks of cold water entering your organs. This increases the risk of hypothermia. Especially if it is your first time trying to swim in cold water, your speed will be negatively affected.
Q: How Do You Get Used to Swimming in Cold Water?
Practice makes perfect, even when it comes to swimming in cold water. Do it regularly so that your body will get used to the cold temperature. Regular exercise and a warmup routine will also help.
It is also recommended that you wear the right gear, including a swim cap and an active swimsuit, women wetsuits, or swim trunks made of the right material. Earplugs for swimming and neoprene socks will also help. Wearing a swim parka before the plunge is also a good idea.
Q: Can You Get Sick from Swimming in Cold Water?
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With the benefits of swimming in cold water mentioned above, there’s no reason to not take an icy plunge! It burns calories, boosts your immune system, improves mental health, enhances blood circulation, and reduces inflammation, among other things.
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