Wild Swimming: Health Benefits and Safety
Without a doubt, the popularity of Wild Swimming is on the rise in the UK. With a marked increase in the number of people opting for the outdoors to find adventure, Wild Swimming is becoming the latest in trends to hit the outdoor leisure world.
At Her Outdoors, we hold many free events for women in wild swimming, so women can feel safe, secure and try something new in a guided environment. Safety is paramount. So we want to make sure people not only know the health benefits, but also how to keep safe.
Only Swim where you are allowed - Refrain from swimming in reservoirs, canals, stagnant lakes or shallow and silty waters. If there is a sign there forbidding you to swim, it is there for a reason. Many dangers are under the water and can be dangerous for even the strongest of Swimmers. Research your swimming venue, take advice from others and if in doubt, contact your local authority for a list of outdoor swimming spaces in your area.
Always swim with someone - Swimming alone should be avoided. However, stronger swimmers may need to swim alone for training. Always let someone know where you are, leave a note on your car if you are parking somewhere rural, informing of your whereabouts and if you are swimming with a weaker swimmer, make sure you keep an eye on them.
Know the shallow bits - Do not dive or jump into the unknown. Knowing where the shallow bits are can lessen risk of injury from swimming in shallow areas, but can also provide respite if you get tired.
Plan your exit before you get in - It is best to have at least two exit points on your swim. Always know how you can get in and out safely. Ease your self in slowly and safely.
Wear footwear or neoprene socks - Protect your feet. The bottom can have sharp rocks that can cause cuts.
Make sure you are seen - Wear a bright coloured swim hat or have a bright flotation device behind you so that any other water way users know you are there.
Do not get too cold - Possibly the most important one. Know your body. It is very easy for your body temperature to drop quickly. This can lead to shock and fainting. Wetsuits and protective clothing can help to reduce these effects and allow you to stay in longer. Make sure you have plenty of Dry, warm clothing ready for when you get out, a hot drink maybe and a foil blanket in case you need to heat up quickly.
So that's the formal bit disclaimer taken care of. Now let's have a look at Why this is so much fun. Well, it is not only fun, but it can also have a positive mental effect on your well being, overall perception and lead to some welcome health benefits too.
It's a natural boost to your immune system
Coldwater helps to boost the white blood cell count because the body is forced to react to changing conditions. This can lead to better defence systems over time that can deal more effectively with viral and immune-related infections
Its all about the Endorphins
Coldwater swimming activates endorphins which is the "Natural High" chemical. This chemical is what the brain produces to make us feel good during activities. Endorphins are also released when we feel we are in pain. The adaptation to this colder environment produces Endorphins so we can deal with our new climate effectively.
It improves your circulation
Cold water swimming flushes your veins, arteries, and capillaries. It forces blood to the surface and helps to warm our extremities. Repeated exposure adapts us to the cold.
It increases your Sex Drive
Hang on to your Hats ladies, the tides have changed. Coldwater, was once associated with dampening a raging libido. In fact, it does quite the opposite. A dip in some cold water boosts oestrogen and testosterone production, adding an edge to fertility and ... *cough* "urge".
It burns calories for fun
The heart has to pump faster in cold water and the body must work harder to keep everything warm while swimming. Overall, far more calories are burned during cold water swimming than swimming in warmer conditions.
It reduces stress and anxiety
Many studies have identified the link between cold water and stress reduction. Coldwater swimmers become calmer and more relaxed over time and report more positive feelings surrounding their days after swimming.
It is a great way of socialising and making new friends
There is a great sense of community and camaraderie amongst cold water swimmers. There is nothing that brings people together like facing a challenge and sharing the experience as a group. Don't believe us? Head to our Events page and sign up to one of our Wild Swim Events