8 reasons cold water swimming helps the body and mind.

 

The physical and mental benefits of taking an icy plunge are many. The weather outside may be far from ideal, but that’s no excuse not to get out and keep fit. And if you’re tired of wheezing around the local park in layers of clothing, cold water swimming may be exactly what you need to shock your system into shedding pounds, building muscle and calming your mind this winter. Here are the benefits…

 

1. Build mental toughness

‘Ice Man’ Wim Hof bathes in ice and runs up snow-capped mountains in his shorts. The reasons behind this are many, as are the benefits. Top of the list, though, is the mental clarity afforded by shocking the system into action. You needn’t fill your tub with ice; just try turning your shower to the coldest setting for 30 seconds each morning. By the end of the week you’ll be able to stand it, and diving into a freezing outdoor pool, lake or pond will be an easier experience, and as your swimming, you will warm up more quickly than you can in a cold show.

2. Increase your metabalism

‘Ice Man’ Wim Hof bathes in ice and runs up snow-capped mountains in his shorts. The reasons behind this are many, as are the benefits. Top of the list, though, is the mental clarity afforded by shocking the system into action. You needn’t fill your tub with ice; just try turning your shower to the coldest setting for 30 seconds each morning. By the end of the week you’ll be able to stand it, and diving into a freezing outdoor pool, lake or pond will be an easier experience, and as your swimming, you will warm up more quickly than you can in a cold show.

3. Break the boredom

Turning up to a new outdoor swimming spot is much more stimulating than simply sliding into the local indoor pool for another monotonous 50 laps. By searching for new and unexplored places, you can add a sense of adventure and reward to your workout that might otherwise be lacking.

4. Gain mental calm

Taking a dip in the sea, local pond or lake offers a welcome escape from swimming lengths in your local gym. With time in nature proven to reduce stress levels and reduce your risk of developing depression and mental illness, taking your workout outside is the best way to be kind to both body and mind.

5. Extra fitness

Much like training in an altitude chamber, pushing yourself to perform in harsh conditions will force your body to adapt quickly. The cold will make breathing more difficult; forcing you to optimize what oxygen you can take in, making you more adept to stressful conditions. Going back into the local indoor pool will be a piece of cake in comparison.

6. Reduce muscle soreness

According to the British Triathlon Federation, a "natural response to immersion in cold water can be the constriction of your arteries." Just like using an ice pack, this can help prevent bruising, swelling and waste tissue build-up following an injury or sprain. Cold water training as part of triathlon training can even help reduce soreness, too. According to a study published by the Cochrane Library, 360 people who immersed themselves in cold water after cycling or running, found the effect to reduce the onset of delayed muscle soreness.

7. Boost your immune system

According to research published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, regular cold-water immersion helps boost your body’s levels of the antioxidant glutathione, which in turn helps regulate the process of all other antioxidants in the body, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

8. Feel less pain

And not because you’re too cold to feel anything. According to Rude Health’s Outdoor Swimming Society, swimming in cold water increases blood flow throughout the body, which in turn helps improve circulation, allowing inflamed areas to heal more quickly, thereby reducing pain. The same principal can be applied by alternatively bathing an injured area in hot and cold water, the difference is, not only is this method more fun, you’ll hopefully avoid injury in the first place altogether.

 

As hard as it may seem to begin with, once you quickly develop the routine, I can guarantee you will love the experience and benefits.
- Darren Milne