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7 reasons to try out cold water swimming

Everyone seems to be cold water swimming these days. And so they should! While plunging into freezing cold water might not be the first thing you think of when you hear the word “fun”, there are lots of benefits of cold water swimming, especially for runners training for a competitive race.

Whether it’s a river, lake or the ocean, here are some of the many benefits of cold water swimming.

Pain Relief

Got sore muscles? When you’re training for a running race such as a half marathon or marathon, aches and pains aren’t unusual. But have no fear, because cold water swimming can provide excellent pain relief. There’s a reason we use ice packs on sore muscles: cold water causes blood vessels to constrict, therefore reducing blood flow to the area and reducing swelling and inflammation. So, a cold water swim could increase your recovery and provide some much needed pain relief the day after a long run. 

Boosting your immune system

Alongside relieving aches and pains, cold water swimming has been scientifically proven to boost the immune system. This is because our bodies become more used to changing conditions, which boosts our white blood cell count. Those who regularly swim in cold water will find that their bodies get better at fighting off infections and may find they’re less run down.

Variation when training

Cold water swimming is a great exercise to add to your weekly training routine. You probably already know that strength training is important when it comes to running because it builds the muscles needed to run faster for longer. Well, swimming is great for this too, as it’s a powerful full body workout that boosts muscle growth. And, swimming in cold water could be even more effective, as it helps boost your immune system and prevent pain while strengthening those muscles.

Stephanie Ede, cold water swimming

Building lung capacity

Swimming is an aerobic exercise, which means it’s great for lung capacity. Activating the large muscle groups that require lots of oxygen, swimmers may find that they become less breathless when doing other exercises, making it a great exercise for runners. And, cold water swimmers need to focus on their breathing even more, as the temperature shocks the system, requiring even more control. Just be aware that cold water can be a severe shock to the system, so it’s important never to dive in.

Boosting your mood and reducing stress

Ever heard of endorphins? Cold water swimming is so addictive because it guarantees them, every time. While the exercise alone stimulates endorphins, the cold water also shocks the body, increasing the feeling of adrenaline. This means that you essentially get two for one when it comes to the exercise high. And, cold water swimming is also great for stress management and inspiring calmness, especially when it takes place in a natural quiet landscape. It can even be used as a way to treat depression.

Burning calories

Not everyone exercises for enjoyment, and that’s absolutely ok. If you’re exercising to try and get into shape, cold water swimming could be a great workout to add to your repertoire. When done right, cold water swimming burns calories – fast. Swimming is already a great workout because it works the entire body while boosting lung capacity and reducing stress. But, cold water swimming can be even better. The intense cold forces your body to work extra hard to stay warm, burning more calories as a result. So, alongside a healthy diet, one or two cold swims a week could make a huge difference when it comes to weight loss.

It’s free!

Exercising can be expensive. From pricey gym memberships to fancy trainers, some exercises just aren’t that accessible to everyone. Cold water swimming is great because anyone can do it. While some like to invest in a wetsuit or other thermal gear, all the boldest and bravest cold water swimmers need is a swimsuit.  


Recently taken up cold water swimming? Let us know your favourite spots in the comments below.

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Briony is a writer currently living in London. While she spends a lot of time hunched over a desk trying to craft sentences, her other passion is running. She enjoys setting her own goals and is currently training for her second half marathon.

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