Wild swimming

Wild swimming has experienced a huge surge in popularity in recent years. Swimmers describe feeling energised by the cold water and some feel that regular dips help them to better manage their mental health.

Wild swimming

noun. swimming in natural waters such as rivers and lakes.

Why do people do it?

Wild swimming has experienced a huge surge in popularity in recent years. Swimmers describe feeling energised by the cold water and some feel that regular dips help them to better manage their mental health.

An episode of ‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’ (BBC) showcased how cold water swimming transformed one young woman’s longstanding experience of depression. Similarly, athlete Wim Hof argues that ‘cold therapy’ is a way for us to return to nature, its reward being an undeniable boost to both mental and physical wellbeing.

It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that more people are keen to experience the benefits for themselves.

Safety First

The risk factors of wild swim locations vary and depend on weather, water flow and the swimmer. The Outdoor Swimming Society have a list of questions to help get you started and an article for their top 10 tips for safe summer swimming.

Interested? You might want to think about joining a swimming community. This will help you to connect with people who share a love for wild swimming, but more importantly, it means you’ll have company should you need help while in the water.

How wild swimming can support your wellbeing

Scientific research is scarce but many swimmers are convinced that cold water helps lift their mood and have a more positive outlook.

Other benefits that people have reported include experiencing more energy, improved sleep and better focus. Enthusiasts say cold water swimming not only heightens happiness but also creates a strong sense of community.

It’s a popular practice in Denmark where plenty say that cold water swimming improves their mental outlook, especially when it comes to getting through the long winter months.

Don’t live near a safe swimming spot?

For anyone who doesn’t live near to a safe or accessible swim spot, you can test out the reported benefits of cold water by having regular cold showers.

Cold showers have been used for centuries to maximise the body’s ability to adapt to harsher conditions. As a result of these conditions, our bodies can become more resistant to stress – helping people in their everyday lives. In addition to this, feel-good endorphins are released, leading to an overall sense of wellbeing. Read more about the benefits of cold showers here.

Looking to take the plunge?

Read up on and ensure all safety measures before giving wild swimming a go and be sure join a local swimming community. If you have any specific health concerns, check with your health practitioner before starting any new activity.

Here are some great places for further reading:

The Outdoor Swimming Society
BBC Article: The Danish trick to shock your body into happiness
Wim Hof Method: Benefits of cold showers

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