The health benefits of swimming in the sea
At dryrobe, we love getting into the water. It’s always fun and we always feel better for it! So it’s good to know there are solid scientific facts that back up the healing benefits of being out in the water.
The idea that the sea has a positive effect on our physical and mental wellbeing has been around for centuries, but it is starting to become increasingly accepted by health professionals. The concept of a ‘Blue Mind’ ethos (or ‘BlueHealth’) is seeing strong support from research across the world.
Here are some of the key benefits of open water swimming:
‘Vitamin Sea’ is a corny term you’ve probably heard used when people talk about the benefits getting out there into the water but actually, there is a kernel of truth in this. Saltwater contains magnesium (which is thought help with anxiety), this along with the sea’s cooling temperature, rhythmic nature and fresh coastal air combine to have a calming effect, which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Boosts your mood
There’s no doubt about it, diving headfirst into chilly coastal waters is exhilarating and there’s a scientific reason behind this buzz. Endorphins are the bodies natural painkillers and they kick in as soon as you enter the water to take the sting away from the low temperatures. The sudden impact of cold water also releases dopamine and serotine, both of which are mood-boosting chemicals.
Swimming is a great full-body workout, but you can burn extra calories by shifting this exercise from a heated pool out into the sea. By swimming in cold waters, you burn extra calories as your body works harder to regain its normal temperature. Your metabolism can increase by 550%, meaning a cold water swim could have a bigger impact on burning fat than a session in the pool.
When you suddenly become cold, blood rushes to your organs and the heart starts to pump faster to keep up. A swim in cold water will flush the circulation while pumping blood through your arteries, veins and capillaries. This means that getting into the sea regularly can have health benefits that will last a lifetime.
The immediate shock of cold water has been proven to help you stay alert and energised. Some people swear by the physical and mental benefits of taking daily cold showers, and getting into the sea has the same effect; except with a much better view!
Helps with hay fever
Ocean water and exposure to salt is associated with reduced symptoms of hay fever and sinusitis. It’s thought that the saline effect on the lining of the sinuses could reduce inflammation, meaning less of the irritating side effects for sufferers. Industry professionals also suggest that those who live close to and swim in the sea tend to have healthier respiratory systems.
Expands your social life
We believe all outdoor activities are more fun when you do them with others and open-water swimming is no exception. Exercising with friends is a great source of motivation - on those days when you’re not feeling up for it, they can help motivate you and visa-versa.
If swimming isn’t their thing why not get online and find a local club or organisation? They’ll not only provide motivation but will also be an invaluable source of information to help you get started. The Outdoor Swimming Society is a great place to start, they aim to represent the interests of all the different kinds of outdoor swimmers by providing inspiration, connection and a community; as well as information about places to go swimming, events and safety.
Connect with nature
Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how spectacular the nature that surrounds us actually is. Open-water swimming gives you the opportunity to exercise in the kind beautiful and peaceful environment you just can’t get down the gym!
Need some tips for getting out there? Olympian and world-renowned sports science expert Professor Greg Whyte shares his advice for getting started exercising outside: