Swimming In Cold Water – Here Are Some Tidbits to Think About

Doug Williams

The thought of jumping into water that’s near arctic temperatures lacks any sort of appeal for many, many people. There are some people, however, who simply cannot wait for the weather to get colder so that they can swim in those frigid waters.

Some may call the people in this latter group daredevils or adventure seekers, while others may say that they are straight up crazy. But then there are some that say that these people are just very healthy.

While healthy might not be the first thing to come to your mind when you think about swimming in frigid water, it does not mean that it is wrong. Here are some ways in which these people who do enjoy cold water swimming are, in fact, healthy.

Ice swimming in Finland. Photo credit
Ice swimming in Finland. Photo credit

First of all, jumping into cold water can really boost your immune system. This may seem like a counter-intuitive notion, but it’s true. The reason for this is quite simple: when someone is in a situation where they experience a drastic change in temperature, the human body is attuned to feeling as though it is being attacked. This is merely our survival instincts at work trying to protect us.

There have been scientific studies that have pointed out that there are significant increases in the number of white blood cells, as well as many other factors that relate to the immune system, when someone is in extremely cold water for an hour, three times a week.

The researchers who conducted this experiment attribute this immune system effect to the cold water being a stressor that makes the immune system active, giving it some much-needed practice for when there is a real threat to the body.

Another way in which people who enjoy swimming in cold water are healthier is the natural high that they get from it. For many people, this feeling can be addictive because they recieve high amounts of endorphins. While many people are aware that endorphins are a good thing, they might not be aware as to why. Endorphins serve as the body’s natural painkiller.

When you go into freezing cold water, endorphins take the stinging feeling away from your skin. While this can be very close to the barrier between pain and pleasure, it does not mean that it’s not worth it. Cold water can also trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin, two very important chemicals in the brain that keep people happy and increase their pain threshold.

Swimming in very cold water also gets your blood pumping.  When a person is hot, blood is brought to the surface, while being cold sends blood to the organs instead.  Experiencing the extremes of being really hot to being really cold can help you stay healthy.

Increased blood flow is good for you since it helps flush out your circulation by quickly pushing all of the blood through the capillaries, veins and arteries.

Two American marines participating in an immersion hypothermia exercise. 
Two American marines participating in an immersion hypothermia exercise. 

This will also help to make your skin look and stay healthier as it exfoliates it quickly. There is also some evidence that your body develops the ability to adapt to cold when it becomes more used to it, due to frequent exposure.

Another way that swimming in cold water can make you healthier is that it can improve your sex life! There was a study conducted where the participants took cold baths every day and then researchers monitored their bodies for any changes that occurred as a result. T

he researchers found that there was an increased production of testosterone in men and estrogen in women. While this also serves as a way to increase libido in both men and women, these hormones also help out with fertility.

Some even go as far to suggest that men who are looking to have children and need to increase their fertility levels should bathe in cold water every day.

Cold water burns calories as well. While swimming, in general, is a great way to stay in shape and burn calories, swimming in cold water makes your body work twice as hard as it would in warmer water. This serves as a great way to keep your metabolic rate up and therefore help you lose weight.

Anyone who has too much excess weight on them is aware that this can cause a lot of health issues and unnecessary strain on the body. Any activity, especially one that is enjoyable, that can help you lose weight and increase your metabolism is a great idea.

Swimming in very cold water may seem like a crazy idea to some, but after hearing about all of the great health benefits that one can gain, there may be more people out in the open waters come winter time.


fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival