Wild Swimming: Why taking the plunge is good for you

Many wild swimmers report feeling joyful, energised and invigorated after taking the plunge and swear by regular cold dips as the secret to staying youthful. Read on to discover the proven health benefits of outdoor swimming.

It boosts your immunity.
Swimming outdoors regularly leads to a strengthened immune system. This is because the body interprets the sudden burst of icy coldness as an ‘attack’ and gets ready to fight back by producing white blood cells to protect itself.

It gets your blood pumping.
Another way the body reacts to cold water is by pumping blood towards the internal organs to protect them and keep them warm. Blood flow increases to all areas of the body, flushing out the circulatory system and getting rid of nasty toxins. So say hello to glowing skin and reduced cellulite!

It soothes sore muscles.
Cold water lowers the temperature of damaged tissue and locally constricts blood vessels, helping to relieve stiffness in the body. Cold water immersion therapy is often used by athletes and can be particularly beneficial for people with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

Burn baby burn!
Swimming itself is already a great form of exercise, swimming in cold water is even better, as your body burns extra calories to keep warm. The cold water also kickstarts the metabolism so that your body burns calories faster throughout the day.

It triggers feel-good chemicals in the brain.
Swimming outdoors is not only great for your physical health but it does wonders for your mental health as well. If you are feeling blue, a cold dip can give you that much-needed endorphin rush. The cold shock of the water hitting your skin causes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. The cold also activates the parasympathetic nervous system and triggers the release of the feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

At one with nature.
According to Mind, the mental health charity, being able to connect with nature has positive mental health benefits. It has been shown that being more active in green environments can boost your mood and self-esteem far more than simply exercising alone. Research has shown that ‘ecotherapy’ can have great benefits as a treatment option for people experiencing mental health problems.

The long-term health benefits of outdoor swimming are admirable. Studies have shown that the long term health benefits of regular outdoor swims include reduced blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced fat disposition and inhibited blood clotting.

If all the above hasn’t yet convinced you to take the plunge, taking up outdoor swimming might also improve your love life! Swimming in cold water leads to the increased production of testosterone in men and oestrogen in women, meaning both sexes are more likely to be in the mood for love following an outdoor dip. So go on…take the plunge this summer. You know you want to.

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