Some people have loved the idea of cold water swimming for years - from both a mental health and physical wellbeing perspective for a while now.
Increasingly the benefits are being clearly understood, and shared, so that more people can benefit from doing it.
Personally, Shannon and I have been keen open water swimmers since around early 2004. In hindsight, our interaction was more open water swimming (though it felt cold at the time) as we were getting into triathlons, rather than cold water. One thing to note, it is so important from a safety viewpoint, to get used to colder water, rather than going straight in. In away, we had an long climatization period getting used to cold water.
As proud owners of an 'urban ice bath,' 2 half whisky barrels and regular dippers in a local lake through the year, I think we classify ourselves as cold water swimmers.
Physical health benefits of cold water
As with any other form of swimming, it's a full body workout; using upper and lower body, along with engaging the core, whilst also having to control your breathing.
The heart has to work harder when doing both exercise (swimming) and also warming up the body when it is in cold water. You'll burn more calories swimming in cold water than you do in warm water.
By getting into cold water, it helps the body to flush the veins, arteries, capillaries as blood raises to the surface of the skin to warm the extremities. Shannon has found this benefit of particular benefit.
Cold water actually boosts the libido as cold water stimulates the production of estrogen and testosterone adding to both fertility and libido.
Over time, the body gets more efficient at reacting to the cold water - improvements can occur after 6 dips in the cold water). Cold water stimulates boosts the count of white blood cells in response to the changing environmental conditions. Open water swimmers rarely tend to get sick.
Ongoing research suggest that cold water can ease some of the affects of menopause such as; hot flushes, headaches, night sweats, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, reduced libido, vaginal dryness and memory loss.
Improved circulation and the flushing of veins, arteries and capillaries forces blood to the skin and pushes the cold downwards. Repeated exposure therefore improves the body's response to the cold and enhances the health of both hair and skin.
As the body gets more efficient at dealing with cold water, it is able to generate heat more quickly; increasing the metabolism of an individual. More 'brown fat' is created when in cold water and acts as the engine for fat burning by generating more heat and using other fat stores in the body.
Interested to find out more - why not try some of previous blogs
You can also find out more about Cold Water on our website.