WHAT IS IT?
Wild swimming is taking the plunge in the great outdoors. Whether that be at a bend in a river or in the ocean, you can dive into any natural pools, the important thing is that there are no man-made structures. It’s a great way to avoid the chemicals and overcrowding of your local pool and get back into Mother Nature.
WHY DO PEOPLE DO IT?
If you haven’t yet experienced wild swimming, you may be wondering why on Earth people do it, especially if like us you live in the UK and any outdoor swimming is guaranteed to be pretty cold. However, the benefits to it are endless, not only physical but mental. And the long-term effects on the body have been scientifically proven for many years.
Sophie Hellyer - ultimate Stay Wild babe and founder of Rise Fierce, says “It also became so much more than just for health benefits. The sense of calm the cold water brings me, the feeling of being alive. It’s not a solution to all your problems but for those few minutes you leave your problems on the shore and you just go and feel alive. It’s like hitting a big reset button, I may be stressed or sad or angry but when I come out the water I just feel calm and empowered. The sense of community is also huge, seeing the same faces every morning, knowing there will be someone there with you to chat, laugh or cry through whatever life throws at you.”
We also spoke to Tia Tamblyn, founder of the Breakfast and Beyond podcast. "Just as meditation offers us the chance to step back from our thought patterns by observing them objectively as we sit in quiet, in cold water swimming we are required to over-ride the thoughts that tell us not to go in (because it’s madness and far too cold!) in the knowledge that we will benefit from it. Showing up for that experience, stepping (or wave-hopping) over the threshold is so emboldening because we’ve shown ourselves we can work our way through this experience, and even emerge the other side feeling better (if a little cooler) for it. This may seem blithe compared to many of the significant challenges people are facing right now, but at a time when we have lost control over so many facets of our life, taking back control of even the smallest elements can make a big different for us, for our mental health.”
Here are 5 reasons why wild swimming can benefit your health:
Boosted immune system
Plunging into cold water can shock your body which can actually boost your immune system. Research has shown that when people regularly swim in cold water, their white blood cell count increases significantly. This can help to boost your immune system and reduce your risk of some diseases and cancer.
Being immersed in a large quantity of very cold water causes blood to rush to your organs, making your heart work a little bit harder. Not only does this increase the white blood cell count, but it also stimulates the lymphatic system and boosts blood circulation.
Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers and, in the case of a cold swim, it uses them to help take the sting away from your skin. This chemical is what the brain produces to make us feel good during activities. Wild swimming is also a form of exercise, and exercise has been proven to treat depression.
Swimming in cold water makes your body work harder to keep warm, which increases the number of calories you burn. The colder the water, the more energy your body will convert from fat to fire up your metabolism and keep your core temperature stable.
Wild swimming is a type of cold water therapy, which is known to cause blood to flow away from the skin’s surface towards the organs as a means of conserving body heat. This process in turn boosts circulation and flushes out waste and impurities, which in turn makes the skin smoother.
Have you tried wild swimming yet?