From mental health, physical health and beyond
It has been well documented, that open water swimming and cold water swimming have health benefits, both physical and mental, but I believe the social benefits go well beyond just this.
What are the main health benefits to open water swimming?
1. Mental health - helping with anxiety & depression
In a world where we are constantly facing pressures from every angle and society expecting more and more, it’s not surprising that in 2022/23 the mental health foundation reported that 37.1% of Women and 29.9% of men suffer from high levels of anxiety.
Open water swimming allows you to take time for you!. Away from technology and the distractions of life, to give us a chance to try and process some of it and help relieve some of those feelings of anxiety and depression. This is why so many people are plunging into the water for their fix of mood-enhancing endorphins.
- Sleep enhancing
If the endorphins aren’t enough open water swimming can also increase the amount of prolactin in your body which can enhance the quality of your sleep.
- Enjoying wild swimming with others is another benefit to mental health
Open water swimming is not something that has to be enjoyed solo, although I do love the tranquillity when I do. Gone are the days of traditional coffee mornings - walk along any beach in Scotland and you will see groups of heads bobbing up and down in the water, and the faint murmur of gossip and group therapy. Gathering with friends to enjoy the moment together – another huge benefit to mental health.
I found the following article of people sharing their life changing moments after discovering open water swimming a resounding endorsement of the practice.
2. Physical health
I love swimming as an exercise. It provides health benefits at any level. It is a great cardo workout in its own right or to aid muscle recovery from other physical training.
Additionally, as I continue my journey through life and discover the aches, pains and general wear and tear to my body creeping up on me I appreciate how accessible swimming is even when carrying a few ‘old age’ injuries! It is truly a sport that can keep you fit at any age.
But there is more to wild swimming than just this…
- Boosted Immune system – cold water immersion
As well as the obvious health benefits all exercise has, cold water swimming has added powers up its sleeve. Having been brought up and still living in the north of Scotland I am no stranger to a cold water wild swimming experience. I’ve always loved the exhilarating feeling you get from plunging into cold water – but it is only recently I have discovered just how good it is for me. Having been given “The Wim Holf method” book for Christmas have become a big fan of Wim Holf and the benefits of cold water immersion to our immune system, vascular system, and therefore our heart. If you haven’t read it – read it!
3. Environmental benefits
Exploring the outdoors, appreciating nature, learning about the environment around us, and getting into the sea, rivers, lochs helps us to understand the Environmental impact our day to day lives have on it.
The final benefit, something less discussed, is not just for the individual but for the environment. The more we interact with nature and appreciate and explore the wild places we live the more we are aware of the environmental impact we have and how precious the world is. Without necessarily a conscious thought we become more mindful of our environment the more we play in it.
Advisor for the Environmental agency, Catherine Kelly is not only an advocate for wild swimming but for protecting our blue spaces. Her blog link and the blue planet society make for interesting reading.
So if you weren’t sure what all the fuss was about with open water swimming before, hopefully I’ve convinced you to give it a go whether it be to enjoy the mental & physical health benefits or to appreciate and explore the world you live in, get out there and enjoy life!
Make it easier with c-monsta