Swimming is incredible exercise for everyone, from kids right through to older adults. Not only has it been proven to increase cardiovascular fitness and build muscle, but it will leave you feeling slimmer, stronger, more flexible, and less stressed.
While swimming indoors is a great option, outdoor swimming in colder water has a number of unique benefits. A common summer pastime, it is also becoming increasingly popular in the winter months, with enthusiasts reporting a boosted immune system and a wonderful sense of exhilaration and energy.
Here’s 6 reasons to head outdoors and take the plunge:
1. Better sleep
When you swim outdoors, the cold water stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is responsible for repairing the body and when stimulated, it creates a feeling of relaxation which will help with a good night’s sleep.
2. Improved circulation
When we swim in cold water, blood rushes to our organs, making our hearts work a little bit harder to try and keep us warm. This boosts your circulation by pumping blood through your capillaries, arteries and veins, brightening the skin and shifting cellulite.
3. Increased happiness
When we’re stressed out, our breathing and heart rate increase. However, a 2010 study in The Journal of Physiology found that our heart rate halves during short periods in cold water. So, swimming in cold water can help to slow down the heart and reduce stress.
Additionally, when we immerse ourselves in cold water, cold sensors all over our bodies trigger a sudden burst of adrenalin and endorphins that diverts our attention away from any aches and pains, encouraging a sense of wellbeing. It’s essentially nature’s painkiller!
Combine all this with the fact that exercise and spending time outdoors have been proven to improve your mood and promote mental wellbeing, outdoor swimming ticks all the boxes.
4. Boosted immune system
In a Czech study, people who immersed themselves in cold water 3 times a week saw a significant increase in their white blood cell count – the immune cells that help fight off infection.
Outdoor swimming effectively shocks the immune system in producing more white blood cells and more antioxidants. This will boost your immune system and reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
5. Increased metabolism
Swimming in cold water makes your body work harder to keep warm. Your body will burn more calories simply in an effort to keep warm, converting fat to fire up your metabolism and keep your core temperature stable.
Additionally, those who regularly swim in cold water may experience cold-water adaptation and reduced insulin resistance. This effectively means lower blood-sugar levels. This adaptation may help those with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
6. Boosted alertness
If you struggle to stay awake in the morning, a cold water swim will wake you up! The shock of cold creates a surge of adrenaline that leads to increased energy and levels of alertness.
David Lloyd Clubs offer a wide range of swimming facilities and services for the whole family, including outdoor pools. Contact your local club to find out more or visit the swimming section of the David Lloyd Clubs blog.