Benefits of open water swimming and how to have your first dip.
Open water swimming has exploded over the last year or so, with many people taking up dipping into local rivers or seas as a way to keep active when the restrictions allowed, now that they're almost fully lifted the activity is only getting more popular. Jumping into open water isn’t about being a little ‘out there’ and part of the latest trend, cold water swimming has some health benefits that you can’t turn your nose up to. If you’ve been watching from the sidelines or shore lines wondering what all the fuss is about, we’ve put together some of the key health benefits and a few tips on taking your first plunge.
Long term health conditions
Cold water swimming can help your body to work more efficiently and effectively, making it better at defending against damage or infection. If you already live with a long term health condition, regular exposure to open water can help to manage symptoms.
Many people who frequent streams, rivers and seas report the positive effects it has on their wellbeing and mental health.The natural endorphins released during open water swimming produces a natural high and rush of feel good chemicals, which explains why so many people go back for more. For those looking for ways to clear their head, find focus and realise they’re literally a small fish in a big pond open water swimming can be a pastime that supports both your physical health and mental health. For people who live with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, open water has been found to have somewhat therapeutic effects and there have been some GP’s who have started prescribing open water swimming as a way to help with the symptoms of common conditions.
Even if you don’t swim very far, being in cold water will make your heart beat faster to help keep you warm. This means you’ll naturally burn more calories, combine this with some short swims or regular dips and you’ll be cutting through some extra calories in no time. With your body adapting to different environments and stresses, you might find that other areas of fitness start to improve as you learn how to control your breathing and heart rate.
If you’re feeling that you’re ready to dip your toe in, or even get your shoulders under we’ve got a few tips on getting started. First and foremost, as with many other outdoor activities, safety is paramount. It’s always advised to swim with others, especially if you’re new. Make sure you know the basics of swim safety, you can find some helpful information over at The Royal Life Saving Society.
Swim Tip #1 - For your first few attempts make sure you can easily get in and out of the water. As you walk in, splash some of the water on your face, arms and neck. If you’re wearing a wetsuit pop a bit down the neck of the wetsuit, this lets your brain know something cold is coming!
Swim Tip #2 - Breathe. Cold water can make you hold your breath, and tense up. Practise with a few deep breaths before you go in and give yourself time to adjust and relax.
Swim Tip #3 - Don’t overdo it. It can take time to adapt to cold water, even in the summer when the air is warm. If you can only last 5 minutes, that’s still 5 minutes more than if you were sitting on the sidelines. Build up slowly and safely.
Swim Tip #4 (the most important one) - Have fun! Enjoy experiencing something new that is good for your health, fitness and wellbeing!
We hope to see you at a session soon but until then