Cold water swimming is great for your health. It is good for your cardiovascular system, and it helps with stress and depression. You will also feel healthier if you swim for more than an hour every day.
A study in the United Kingdom has shown that cold water swimming has a positive effect on mental health. It improves cardiovascular risk factors and may even help to alleviate depression and anxiety.
Chronic stress is common in all ages, and the body responds in different ways to the same type of stress. Physical stress, such as a sudden immersion in ice water, causes cortisol and other stress hormones to surge. This is called a fight-or-flight response, and it can lead to physical and psychological symptoms.
Cold water swimming has been used for centuries to improve health. Hippocrates – the father of medicine – believed that cold water therapy could help to relieve fatigue. Today, people swear by the practice, which can leave them feeling clear-headed and relaxed.
Boosts the immune system
When it comes to improving the immune system, cold water swimming is a proven effective way. However, there are several health risks associated with cold water swimming.
For instance, prolonged immersion in ice-cold water may cause persistent physiological stress, leading to immunosuppression. This can lead to serious adverse effects.
A cold water swimming regimen has been shown to have positive effects on cardiovascular and psychological factors. However, further research is needed to determine the true health benefits of this form of exercise.
One study found that cold water swimmers had a lower rate of upper respiratory tract infections. Another found that a single session of cold immersion produced a modest immune response.
A more comprehensive study on the effects of cold water immersion on the immune system found that repeated exposure over time did not significantly affect immunoglobulins, the most common markers of immunity. However, prolonged immersion had a dramatic impact on lymph flow.
A recent case report published in the British Medical Journal suggests that swimming in cold water can reduce depression symptoms. In the study, the results were reported in two separate studies: one with a small group of depressed volunteers and the other with a larger group of healthy volunteers.
Both of the studies involved a 10-week swim program that improved participants’ mood and well-being. The study also examined the effects of simulated natural environments.
During the course of the study, participants’ plasma concentrations of dopamine increased by 250% and noradrenaline by 530% in water with a 14C content. Dopamine and noradrenaline are “feel-good” chemicals that are released during exercise. They help people feel more at ease and reduce the stress response.
There’s been some controversy over the effects of cold-water immersion on mental health. This study is one of the first to examine how a physical stressor affects the body in different ways.
Boosts dopamine production
Cold water swimming is believed to be an antidepressant, thanks to its effects on catecholamines and b-endorphin production. The hormones provide pain relief, euphoria and increased feelings of well-being.
Swimming promotes a sense of community and achievement. Droves of people worldwide suffer from depression. It is the leading cause of disability. Various studies have found that cold water swimming can improve depression symptoms. In fact, a young woman started a weekly trial program of cold water swimming, and stopped taking medications to treat her depression.
Dr Mark Harper, an anaesthetist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, was interested in the potential stress benefits of cold water swimming. He and his colleagues have been dipping volunteers into cold water in a lab, and testing their reactions to sudden immersion. They found that it lowered systolic blood pressure by 7% and diastolic blood pressure by 8%. This reduction was due to the increase of catecholamines and b-endorphins.
Brings people together
A lot of people will tell you that cold water swimming is an exercise in endurance, but it’s not all about the sweat. In fact, it has been shown to boost heart health, lower blood pressure, and improve lipid profiles. The best part is that you don’t have to leave your home to enjoy these benefits. Fortunately, a number of clubs, such as the Brighton Swimming Club, have changed rooms that provide hot showers and changing facilities for swimmers with a cold water fix. Alternatively, you can take to the open water if that’s more your thing.
Getting in the pool, even in the cold, can be a great way to spend some quality time with friends and family, or to get in some much needed exercise. For more information on the club’s many activities, check out its website or Facebook page.