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Cold Water Immersion or Winter Swimming

What are the benefits, top tips for stick out the cold

What changes happens to our bodies as the water temperature drops? If you swim regularly these changes may be subtle, if you miss a few weeks, it may be more of a shock to your system.

Let’s work from head down, so first will be ice cream head, a stinging, burning sensations as temperatures start to drop this maybe the first sign you notice. What do you do? Well, you have two options, the first is to deal with it except that the water is getting colder, that you are going to feel cold and act accordingly. You can start by double hatting, this is the wearing of two silicone or latex swimming hats, keep exposing your skin to the cold temperatures, eventually your face will go numb. When temperatures drop further you could choose to wear a scull cap, made of neoprene or a full balaclava type hood. Alternatively, you decide I can’t deal with the cold face, and you wear a bobble hat and change to swimming breaststroke for the winter.

Extremities, hats and feet, thermal socks and gloves will help, these are personal choices, other people can make recommendations but only you can decide what you like, what works for you. Finger dexterity is vital to your ability to be able to change and get dressed quickly could have a massive impact on your experience and your survival. I recommend sewing loops onto your socks and gloves to aid being able to remove them quickly. Wrap your dry clothes particularly the clothes you need to put on first in a hot water bottle, there is nothing better than putting on warm clothes after a cold swim. Use layers of clothing and exercise with a brisk walk after swimming to aid getting the blood flowing.

Don’t drive if you feel unwell, come back to the jetty and let me know, I will help. In your friendship groups luck our for each other, check on each other. When you on your way home don’t put the car heating on full blast let your body rewarm gradually.

So that is kit, but what does the science say the benefits include improvement in mood and behaviour this is due to the release of serotonin. Great way to start the day off right. Helps make you more productive in your work, great for balancing that work /life scenario.

Improves circulation (Janski et el, 1996), help keeps the blood flowing. People with conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatism and but not limited to asthma saw benefits in their conditions with regular swimming according to Huttunen, Kokko & Ylijukuri (2004). This is not an exclusive list there are many other benefits, why not do some further reading so some of the articles below.

We as human benefit from going through the experience with us, connecting with other like minded individuals. Here at Wyresdale Park we are creating a swimming community that welcomes all. Hope you enjoyed reading this, from more tips and insights subscribe to my website. Hope to see you all swimming soon.

Further Reading:

Van Tulleken, C.; Tipton, M.; Massey, H.; Harper, C.M. Open water swimming as a treatment for major depressive disorder. BMJ Case Rep. 2018, 2018. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]

Hirvonen J, Lindeman S, Joukamaa M, Huttunen P. Plasma catecholamines, serotonin and their metabolites and 13-endorphin of winter swimmers during one winter. Possible correlations to psychological traits. 8. Int J Circumpolar Health 2002; 61: 363–372. [Taylor & Francis Online]

Lin EH, Katon W,Von Korff M, et al. Effect of improving depression care on pain and functional outcomes among older adults with arthritis: a randomized controlled trial. Jama 2003; 290: 2428–2429. [Crossref] [PubMed] [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]

Pirkko Huttunen, Leena Kokko & Virpi Ylijukuri (2004) Winter swimming improves general well-being, International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 63:2, 140-144, DOI: 10.3402/ijch.v63i2.17700

Janský, L., Pospíšilová, D., Honzova, S., Uličný, B., Šrámek, P., Zeman, V. and Kaminkova, J., 1996. Immune system of cold-exposed and cold-adapted humans. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology, 72, pp.445-450.

Marlatt, K.L., Beyl, R.A. and Redman, L.M., 2018. A qualitative assessment of health behaviors and experiences during menopause: a cross-sectional, observational study. Maturitas, 116, pp.36-42.

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