From as far back as Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale it’s been speculated that regular cold baths can strengthen ones mental and physical state. Therefore, if these health benefits are apparent after a simple cold bath, imagine what benefits swimming in fresh water could hold.
For century’s people have enjoyed the pleasure of a little paddle on a hot summer day or the more adventurous among us divebombing into a lake. At the turn of the century the term ‘wild swimming ‘would have been used to describe the practice of swimming in natural water, river swimming or any outdoor water. It would have been how our grandparents and great grandparents learnt to swim, maybe in a lake or water hole and would have been practiced even in the middle of winter.
In recent years we have seen a resurgence of open water swimming and this may in some part be due to the known benefits associated with the pastime; people are starting to enjoy the pleasure of exploring their lakes and rivers once more and are enjoying the health benefits to.
· Cold water immersion is known to soothe muscle aches, relieves depression and boosts the immune system, it’s a fact that cold water helps to boost your white blood cell count because the body is forced to adapt to the changing conditions, therefore over time your body becomes better at mobilising its defence.
· Fresh water swimmers know that the natural endorphin high that they get from their energetic swim raises mood and heightens the senses.
· Cold water swimming helps to improve our circulation, increasing the blood flow to our extremities.
· Cold water swimming makes our heart pump faster and the body work harder, therefore increasing the amount of calories we burn.
· Many studies have shown that there is a link between water and stress reduction. Fresh water swimmers are naturally calmer and more relaxed due to their pastime.
We know these benefits exist because of the studies that have been carried out, we know that many regular cold water swimmers have managed to increase both their life expectancy and overall quality of life.
Swimming in lakes and rivers is no doubt becoming a favourite pastime of those looking to boost their fitness, health and of course have some fun. Why not give it a go and see how invigorated it makes you feel!