My Polar Swimming Challenge
So this winter I decided to embark on a mad challenge to do at least one wild swim a month in just my swim suit - starting from November through to March.
Many people have asked me why on earth I would do such a crazy thing....well the answer is simple....why not?! For me the appeal was the fact I didn't have to lug my wetsuit around with me, the cold water soothed my legs after a run and it helped me choose new routes that I perhaps might not have explored otherwise.
As well as a crazy (and cold!) challenge, wild swimming in cold water has also been proven to have many beneficial effects - so I was keen to find out more:
It reduces inflammation
Whether it be stress, a cold or underlying health problems, the immune system will produce inflammation. The cold water and swimming regularly produces a cross-adaptive inflammatory response which is super beneficial to your body as even mild depression can cause inflammation in the body.
It helps you connect with nature
Wild swimming forces you to take time out away from your busy day, social media and electronic items and just take some time for yourself, which in this crazy busy world is much needed.
It reduces stress hormones
According to top health experts 'immersion in cold water results in a ‘cold-shock’ response: gasping, hyperventilation, increased heart rate, release of stress (sympathoadrenal) hormones. Repeated cold water immersion allows acclimatisation, including a reduction in the cold-shock response – a reduction in the level of the stress hormones (noradrenaline, cortisol, ACTH).' So I would say that's a winner all round then!
It increases happy hormones
As well as reducing stress, wild swimming can actively boost levels of the happy hormones in our bodies too. A study undertaken by scientists in Prague in 2000 found that cold water immersion can boost dopamine levels by 530 per cent (the neurotransmitter that helps us experience pleasure); while further studies in 2008, by molecular biologist Nikolai Shevchuk, discovered it also increases beta-endorphin and noradrenaline, the feel-good chemicals in our brain.
So there there it is! Next time you are out for a walk.....pack your swimmers, have a quick dip and see where it takes you....you never know you might just be hooked like me!