At SwimJim we keep our pools to a comfortable 88-90 degrees year round for lessons, but jumping into really cold water—let alone swimming in it for minutes or hours at a time—isn’t something most people are particularly willing to do. In fact, it’s not even on the radar for countless would-be swimmers. This, as it turns out, is actually a mistake because there are benefits of cold water swimming they are missing out on.
Extensive research has been done on why spending time in cold water is actually a good thing. Take a look at seven of the biggest benefits of cold water swimming below, and see if they don’t convince you to jump into the nearest icy body of water near you (while taking proper safety precautions, of course.).
Some studies have shown a correlation of higher white blood cell count in cold water swimmers than in other swimmers. This could be related to the body having to react to forced changes in its environment, such as immersion in very cold water.
Cold water swimming forces blood to the surface to warm your extremities, which causes your veins and arteries to be flushed out. This flowing outward of blood helps your entire body practice what it’s meant to do: keep you warm. Regularly exposing your body to heightened cold that comes from swimming in chilly water helps increase blood flow.
Putting your body in an environment where it has to work harder to keep you warm helps you burn more calories. Swimming in cold water works your body even harder than swimming in temperate water because your body expends more energy trying to keep warm while also reaping the usual benefits of exercise.
Another added benefit of cold water swimming is how it can make you feel. We’re talking about more than feeling cold—just like with any exercise, endorphins are released, causing you to feel happier. When your body is exposed to something like cold water that can cause pain, your body also releases endorphins. So you get a double dose of these feel-good chemicals.
Studies indicate that a dip in some cold water now and again actually boosts estrogen and testosterone production, leading to an increase in your overall libido.
In the moment, cold water swimming places additional stress on your body. You’ll also likely feel some mental stress. However, the power it takes for your mind to control your body and keep you in the water for a prolonged period of time can actually reduce stress and anxiety in the long run. Cold water swimming is a true mind-over-matter conquest.
7. Encourages Socialization
Swimming in cold water has become popular enough that many people do it in groups. Few things bring people together like facing a challenge and overcoming it.
Reap the Benefits
What do you think? Does it sound refreshing and exhilarating? Whether you’re eager for the opportunity to take the plunge or are shivering just thinking about it, the benefits of cold water swimming are undeniable.