Should you swim in your pool in the winter? Why not?! As it turns out, swimming in colder waters can actually be good for your health!
1. Boosts your immune system
For your body, a sudden and drastic change in temperature constitutes an attack. And, whilst “attacking” your own body may not sound like a good thing, there is no harm in keeping it on its toes. In fact, quite the opposite.
A study out of the Czech Republic found that individuals who were immersed in cold water three times a week for one hour bouts enjoyed a significant increase in their white blood cell counts, as well as levers other factors that affect the immune system. The cause: the cold water, being a minor ‘stressor’, activated the immune system of these individuals which helped keep illness at bay.
2. For an all-natural high
Winter swimmers talk a lot about the ‘high’ they get from cold water – a feeling of wellbeing that’s so encompassing that it becomes quite addictive (who doesn’t want to feel truly good, at least once a day?) The cause? Endorphins.
Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers and, in the case of a cold dip, it uses them to take the sting away from your skin. So, to get high on your own supply, all you need to do is jump in a your cold pool.
3. Gets your blood pumping
Being hot brings blood to surface. Being cold sends it to your organs. Both extremes work your heart like a pump. That’s why the whole sit in the sauna, roll in the snow, sit in the sauna thing makes people glow. But why is increased blood flow good for you?
Well, it helps flush your circulation for starters, pushing blood through all your capillaries, veins and arteries. It will exfoliate your skin and flush impurities from it, thus helping your complexion (firm-bodied women of all ages around pool sides say it stops cellulite). Evidence also demonstrates that your body adapts to the cold with repeated exposure and this may improve your circulation, particularly to your extremities – no bad thing in the winter months.
4. Burns calories
We all know that swimming is great exercise but there are some extra benefits from doing it in the North Sea that you just won’t get from a warm wade in the Med.
Swimming in cold water will make your body work twice as hard to keep you warm and burn more calories in the process. For this sort of exercise, fat is your body’s primary source of energy and the increased work rate will increase your metabolism in the long run.
The benefits of regular cold-water swimming are well known: shinier hair, fewer colds, glowing skin, more energy, a tighter bottom. It boosts your immune system, they say, and releases adrenaline and endorphins, for a natural buzz. It improves circulation and flushes out impurities like a detox, resulting in a great complexion. It burns more calories than warm-water swimming, and is said to boost testosterone and estrogen, enhancing libido as well.
Care should be taken when winter swimming in swimming pools. The chlorine added to water in swimming pools and the salt in saltwater pools allow the water to remain liquid at sub-zero temperatures. Swimming in such water is significantly more challenging and dangerous. So, of course, don’t stay in too long and warm up properly afterwards. Putting your clothes on is no use – you have to apply heat. A hot shower will do it.