Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises for physical and mental wellbeing. While many of us like to pop to the pool once or twice a week, open water swimming in the UK is becoming increasingly popular with people of all ages.
What is Open Water Swimming?
It’s exactly what it says on the tin – you head to the great outdoors and dive into the water. You can open swim in the sea or find a secluded lake somewhere. You can even take a plunge in your local river. The great news is it’s completely free and you can do it on your own or as part of a group.
5 Benefits of an Open Water Swim
No doubt getting into open water can seem daunting at first and even the thought of it can put people off. But wild swimming in a mountain lake or hitting the beach has several important benefits for overall health and wellbeing.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that open water swimming improves your mental health and lifts your mood, even after one dip in an icy lake. In one survey of 830 people, 8 out of 10 participants believed the activity gave a boost to their mental wellbeing.
Going into cold water brings a surge of dopamine and releases endorphins, giving you a natural ‘high’.
Connecting with nature while doing physical activity also lifts your mood.
The total focus on the activity itself can help bring together mind and body and improve conditions such as depression and anxiety.
The buzz you get after completing an open water swim is, according to many participants, amazing.
Because you are going into a lower temperature, while the shock can be challenging, it is likely to boost your circulation. Better blood flow has several benefits including getting valuable oxygen to your cells and improving muscle health.
Better circulation should increase your energy levels for the rest of the day ahead and ensure you are ready to take on life’s challenges.
Boost Your Immune System and Metabolism
With increased circulation, you should also see an improvement in your immune system. It’s no surprise that there’s been an increase in participation in open swimming across the UK during the pandemic for this reason among others.
One recent study found that people who took a dip in cold water three times a week had a higher level of white blood cells, the key components in fighting off infection.
Wild water swimming can also improve metabolism because the body has a natural stress response to protect the core body temperature.
Great for the Skin and Joints
Anyone who has taken a cold shower will realise that cold water can also have a wonderful effect on the skin, softening it and even in some cases helping to improve problems such as eczema and psoriasis. Taking a dip in the local pool can aggravate certain skin conditions because of the chemicals that are in the water.
Seawater in particular has many benefits for not just the skin but conditions such as arthritis because of minerals like magnesium and sodium.
Finally, open water swimming is great for building friendships. According to a recent BBC article, clubs around the UK have seen a surge in membership over the last couple of years.
People are seeing the benefits and enjoying open water swimming as a social activity where they meet new friends. The Bluetits Chiller Swimmers group on Facebook saw its membership grow by 8,000 in 2020 alone at the height of the pandemic.
While it can seem a little challenging at first, open water swimming is a great way to boost your overall health and wellbeing. It’s growth in popularity in recent years means that most towns and cities have at least one group that you can join and try for yourself.
If swimming isn’t for you though why not try a Duathlon. A good old run, bike and run is another great way to get into the world of multi sport (without getting wet) We have a range of duathlon events throughout the year so why not head over to our events page and take a look?