Sustainable fashion designer Lisa Taylor shares how cold water swimming offers so many health and wellness benefits.
Over the past year, cold water swimming has become increasingly popular with more and more people taking the plunge. If you've never tried it before, it might sound like one of the last things you'd want to do, but if you're up for braving the freezing temperatures, the benefits of cold water swimming are really quite incredible. Lisa Taylor writes about the many reasons she loves cold water swimming and how it's impacted her life and health; both physically and mentally.
"I love swimming with others. I swim with mostly ladies and the camaraderie encouraging each other to get in is as good as the dip itself! I have made so many new friends through wild swimming.
Cold water swimming actually makes me stop and connect with nature, people around me but mainly myself. I'm able to just be - which really is what self care is all about. I only wear a surf swimmer as I love to feel the water up close on my skin.
Submerging yourself in the icy water is great for your circulation. It forces blood to the surface to keep you warm, which flushes your veins, arteries and capillaries.
The effects of cold water on the immune system have been studied widely. The cold water helps to boost your white blood cell count as your body reacts to the temperature, therefore over time, your immune system is strengthened.
Cold water swimming activates endorphins - the 'happiness hormone'. After a dip, I just wait for the buzz and wallow in the glow which can stay with me all day.
If you're new to cold water swimming, here are some words of advice to get you started. A great purchase to make is some neoprene gloves and boots; I always wear these with an extra pair of merino socks. Your extremities feel the cold the most so keeping these warm is really important. If you're lucky enough to live by the sea, watch the water.
If it doesn't feel right or conditions seem to dangerous, don't risk it to be 'brave'. There is lots of information regarding the safety of cold water swimming as it does have its risks and dangers. There are many websites online which I would advise you to take a look at beforehand, however my main advice would be to know your limits. I am quite light in weight so I know my absolute maximum time in the water is around 10 minutes, then I am out.
Some of the others so 15 or 20 minutes but I know that 10 is enough for me and my body. By knowing my limits, I reduce the risk of any 'after-drop', which is where the body struggles to warm up and you may feel shaky or cold for longer than usual. Make sure you have the correct kit - get out of your wet clothes as soon as possible and get changed by the waterside.
Take warm, cosy layers and something to stand on. It's also a good idea to have a flask of something hot to help warm you up. Finally, resist the temptation to jump into a hot shower. I find warming up gradually is best followed by a tepid shower.
GET IN TOUCH
If you try your hand at cold water swimming, we'd love to hear what you think plus any benefits you feel! If you have any tips to add to help or encourage others please drop me a note here: @luckylisat