Do you dream of swimming in the sea during wintertime? Now is the time to get started! And get ready for some Great health benefits of winter swimming.
During my period of recovering from my burnout towards a life in balance, something that I took up and really enjoyed and felt great for my body, mind and soul was winter swimming. In Malmö we have an old gorgeous cold bathing house called Ribersborgs Kallbadshus.
This amazing place is build on pillars in the sea. It´s such a beautiful place overlooking Öresund with Copenhagen on one side and Malmö on the other connected with the beautiful Öresundsbridge. Even if you do not want to take a dip in the cold sea, visiting the and the café is a great experience and ann actual must see if you are in the area.
The winter swimming season has started again and i´m enjoying the effects that going to the sauna combined with a dip in the cold sea has on my body and my mind. The cold water triggers a shock that sends fireworks of endorphins and adrenaline into the blood. And I simply get rewarded with a head-rush, tingling sensations, immediate pain relief – that stays a few hours afterwards, inner warmth and a rapture of joy.
It is said that If your blood pressure increases due to stress, regular winter bathers reduce blood pressure at rest. I´m curious of this connection, even if I really feel that this has very positive effects on me, so I found some research on the subject, and here is
What Science says:
When you dip your whole body into the cold water, it triggers a stress reaction. The sympathetic nervous system is activated and increases the excretion of blood-borne hormone norepinephrine
The cold will also stimulate your parasympathetic system, which is responsible for rest and repair, and this can trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin which are a vital part of keeping us happy.
A study at the University of Oulu followed up 100 winter swimmers, and the study shows that their blood pressure was lowered, making them more resistant to cold and additionally they were able to handle stress better.
The finish scientist Pirkko Huttonen also made another study together with researchers Leena Kokko and Virpi Ylijukuru. This study had a test group of 33 winter swimmers, who averaged bathed four times a week, and 23 people who were not at all the winter swimmers. The researchers concluded that winter bathers felt more energetic, active and surprise than the control group. All winter swimmers who suffered from rheumatism, fibromyalgia or asthma argued that winter bathing reduced their pain and problems. (source)
Great health benefits of winter swimming
The large Finnish outdoor recreation association Suomen Latu, where the Finnish winter bathing unions are affiliated, are claiming that this is the health benefits that you get through the winter bathers:
- better tolerance to cold
- fewer colds
- less aches and pains
- better circulation
- lower blood pressure
- a rested mind
- reduced stress
- improved sleep
Important: Doctors do not recommend to people with constant high blood pressure to practice winter swimming. But if you have you have temporarily high blood pressure – and it´s not too high – for example, due to workload, winter swimming can actually lower blood pressure. – Always check with your doctor first!
A few how to´s
Before entering the water
- Never swim alone.
- Check the conditions.
- Beware of ice on the stairway and bridge.
- Lower body calmly into the water.
When you are in the water
- Breathe calmly.
- Keep an eye on each other.
- Stay close by staircase or stairway.
- Never swim under the ice.
It is recommended that you become accustomed to gradual. It is best to continue bathing, after the regular bathing season has ended.
Enjoy the cold dip and the great health benefits of winter swimming 🙂
(photos by Kirstine ilum – all rights reserved)