Discover the health benefits of open water swimming

Alison Hamlett from London Marathon Events explains the benefits of open water swimming and why you should consider entering London Marathon Events Swim Serpentine.

Discover the health benefits of open water swimming

When the health benefits of the Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ hit the headlines recently, we were reminded about the many health benefits of open water swimming.

Forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. So if you’re wondering whether to take the plunge at Swim Serpentine, you might be interested to hear that swimming in open water promotes both physical and mental wellbeing in much the same way as a stroll through the trees.

From enhancing your happiness to boosting your immune system, open water swimming offers a variety of health benefits. We’ve put together a magnificent seven reasons why you should go for a cold-water dip sometime soon…

The benefit: better sleep

When you swim outdoors, the cold water stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for repairing the body. Stimulating the PNS promotes a feeling of relaxation, often with a sense of contentment, which should deliver a better night’s sleep.

The benefit: improves circulation

Whenever we become cold, blood rushes to our organs, making our hearts work a little bit harder, so every time you swim outdoors, the cold water helps to boost your circulation by pumping blood through your capillaries, arteries and veins.

The benefit: a natural high

You’ll know that immersing yourself in cold water – whether in the sea, the Serpentine or simply in the shower – can make your skin sting and take your breath away. To reduce the stinging sensation, your brain releases endorphins (which are painkillers produced by your body), which results in a feeling of wellbeing once you’re back on dry land.

The benefit: increases your metabolism

Swimming in cold water makes your body work harder to keep warm, which increases the number of calories you burn. The colder the water, the more energy your body will convert from fat to fire up your metabolism and keep your core temperature stable.

The benefit: boosts your immune system

A recent study in the Czech Republic revealed that immersing your body in cold water for an hour can shock the immune system and help produce more white blood cells and more antioxidants, which help to boost your immune system and reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

The benefit: enhances happiness

Diving into cold water releases endorphins – the natural high that helps us fight depression. Our bodies also release dopamine and serotonin, which help us to feel happy, when we swim in cold water. Combine these benefits with a workout in the great outdoors, which has been proven to reduce stress and promote mental wellbeing, and you have a powerful way to keep inject some happiness into your day.

The benefit: it’s great for the skin

Cold water exfoliates the skin, flushing out impurities and making it smoother – which all adds up to you feeling better inside and out every time you swim outdoors.

If you think you’d like to find out if you get any of these benefits from open water swimming why not try it out at your local open water swimming venue and challenge yourself by entering Swim Serpentine.

If you would like any more information about open water swimming read Swim England’s hints and tips here.

Photos supplied by London Marathon Events.