SHAPING UP: Cold water swimming can be tough at first but it has real health benefits

Cold water bathing has risen to popularity over the last couple of years and after seeing so many people up and down the North East Coast taking a cold dip, it’s inspired me to try it for myself.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 12:00 am
Wear a swimming hat, or two, to help preserve body.
Wear a swimming hat, or two, to help preserve body.

Over the last two weeks I’ve been doing daily, fifteen-minute dips at Seaham beach and the results so far have been great!

Getting in the intensely cold sea at first was really tough, but I found it does get easier as time goes on, and it’s definitely worth persevering with. In fact, once you get used to the cold it’s very relaxing…

Floating in the sea with just the sound of the waves, away from technology and away from work, it gives me time to switch off and clear my mind – even if it is only for fifteen minutes.

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Cold water therapy is exhilarating, it gives my mood a huge boost and I leave the sea buzzing. The refreshing sensation lifts any brain fog and leaves me feeling like new.

The cold water helps my body recover after exercise too. Even after the toughest of workouts, my legs feel light and refreshed. It works because the cold water narrows the blood vessels and directs blood back to the heart and vital organs. The heart then pumps the blood to the lungs where it’s replenished. The oxygenated blood is then pumped around the body, meaning you get fresh oxygen and nutrients to the right areas.The cold also helps to reduce any potential inflammation you might have after exercise, which can help to speed up your recovery and reduce your aches and pains.

The benefits don’t stop there though, it’s also known to boost your immune system, improve your circulation, speed up your immune system and reduce stress. It’s also a great way to meet new people because there’s a great sense of community and camaraderie amongst cold water bathers. There’s nothing that brings people together like facing a challenge and sharing the experience as a group.

If you’re going to try it, you should approach it with caution and take some safety precautions:

Acclimatise

As the temperature drops, just keep moving and your body will get used to the cold. This time of year is the perfect time to start cold water swimming. It will not be such a shock to go through the year then, as the sea temperature starts to fall.

Be safe

Open water can be dangerous. Only ever swim/bathe where it is safe, and make sure you can enter and exit the water quickly and easily. Never swim on your own.

Wear the right kit

Wear a swimming hat, or two, to help preserve body. You can also wear neoprene gloves if you want to protect your fingers.

If you’re interested in taking a dip with other people, there’s a number of groups that you can find on Facebook to get you started.