We have researched winter bathing, the benefits and everything you need to know before jumping into the water.
More and more people are choosing to start the day in the cold winter months with a quick dip in the sea or in the cold, dark waters of a lake. Smitten with the feeling as the body first hits and then is embraced by the cold water. You may even be tempted to call them cold water addicts. They are addicted to the after-effects of a swim in icy water.
Some describe a trip in the cold tub as rebooting the body. It gives them a refreshing surge of energy. They almost get a rush out of it. After a dip, the shivering and tingling reaches every nerve from the tip of the fingers to the tip of the toes.
Winter swimming is not just for fun. An icy dip is in fact beneficial to health.
People are talking about the specific, even measurable, benefits of winter bathing. One thing is sure: Your blood pressure increases and heart rate falls when your body hits the icy water. A cold dip helps to activate a number of stress hormones, which in turn help activate your immune defences. However, scientists have yet to prove that winter bathers are decidedly healthier and less frequently ill than those who do not winter bathe.
Winter bathers report that they get quite high on the endorphins released into the body after a splash in the waves that creates a sense of happiness and well-being. Often, if you winter-bathe with friends, you will find that you develop closer social relationships and stronger esprit de corps. All in all, we can conclude that in several ways, winter bathing is good for body and soul.
One piece of good advice is to start winter swimming while the air temperature is still warm. This allows your body to accustom itself gradually to the cold dip and you avoid exposing yourself to a decidedly cold shock.
Never bathe alone. This is important for winter bathers – and especially for beginners. As a beginner, you may find that you hyperventilate and lose control of your breathing when the cold meets your body. In the worst case, hyperventilation may lead to fainting.
Winter bathers are advised always to wear a hat and to avoid getting their head under water. The blood vessels in your head do not contract in the same way as in the rest of your body. This means that you will chill faster.
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