benefits of wild swimming

If you’re looking for a truly wild adventure, look no further than wild swimming.

Forget the welcoming temperatures of your local swimming pool. Instead, brave the natural waters for an invigorating swim.

Wild swimming isn’t just about braving the elements and challenging yourself – it also has very profound health and wellbeing benefits. In discovering these benefits, the last few years has seen its popularity around the world, particularly with over 50s, rise dramatically.

Wild swimming can be broadly defined as any swimming in natural water, such as lakes, rivers and the sea.

The Outdoor Swimming Society in the UK (which is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about wild swimming) advises participants of any age that have conditions such as high blood pressure or heart conditions to get medical advice before any sort of open water swimming.

Benefits of Wild Swimming

Wild swimming is renowned for its invigorating style of exercise.

Just like activities like Nordic walking or kayaking, wild swimming gets you in the great outdoors and offers an almighty workout.

It is also renowned for having a loyal and passionate following. With wild swimmers all around the world boasting about how good it is, are we all simply missing out on one of the best activities for health and wellbeing?

Well, the following 11 reasons would imply that we very much are!

1. Stress Management

There has been numerous studies into the calming influence cold water has on the body.

Wild swimming is thought to be a fantastic way to reduce stress and feel calmer in yourself and others. Being outside amongst nature in itself is an incredibly effective way to combat stress, whatever you’re doing, from wild swimming to gardening.

 

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2. Meditative

Wild swimming is also thought to be very meditative as well as contributing to better overall mental wellbeing and health.

There have been studies into the impact that cold water has on our mental health. One theory suggests that our skin has more cold receptors than warm receptors, so jumping into cold water is likely to send a huge surge in electrical impulses to the brain. This is believed to help combat depression and other mental health illnesses.

 

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3. Challenging

Challenging yourself and pushing yourself to new limits is a fantastic way to live.

You feel invigorated and empowered.

Wild swimming no doubt challenges you both mentally and physically. The mental component is likely to be the biggest challenge to overcome. Taking that leap into the water helps show yourself what you can do if you push yourself.

Wild swimming can be done all over the world too, so the challenge never ends – you simply need to find some new places to swim!

 

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4. Community

Wild swimming has a fantastic community. People all over the world share their stories and places they have discovered.

Once you start your adventure into the world of wild swimming, you’ll soon spend all your time researching new places to visit and open water available for swimming.

There’s a real sense of comradery between fellow swimmers who share similar values and experiences. It’s the perfect setting to forge lasting friendships.

 

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5. Strength

Swimming is a great sport for building strength, without putting pressure on your joints.

For over 50s, this can be a really useful way to stay strong and build upper body strength.

 

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6. Cardio Fitness

Swimming will undoubtedly get your heart racing and lungs working. This helps improve your cardio fitness helping you feel fitter.

Without realising it, everyday activities like walking the dog, or walking up the stairs will seem so much easier and less tiring.

 

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7. Recovery

Cold water itself will help your body and muscles recover. It’s like having an ice bath.

It helps prevent bruising and muscle soreness. This means combined with other exercise and activities, wild swimming can actually be used as a bit of rehabilitation and recovery activity to help prepare the body for other sports or hobbies.

 

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8. Immune System

By exposing yourself to more environments and potential germs, your immune system will become stronger.

Your body will also adjust and become more used to extreme changes in environment and temperature, helping you adapt in other situations.

Cold water immersion, such as wild swimming, also helps boost antioxidants which helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

 

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9. Libido

Cold water immersion is thought to increase testosterone levels in men, leading to increased libido levels.

Cold water exposure increases levels of serotonin, the proclaimed “happy hormone.” The endorphins released during wild swimming are bound to leave you feel positive and feeling refreshed too.

 

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10. Pain

Cold water helps promote better blood flow around the body, stimulating an anti-inflammatory impact. This helps muscles and injuries recover and repair, as well as helping offer pain relief to other symptoms and aches in your body.

 

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11. Benefits of Swimming

As well as all these amazing benefits, swimming itself carries plenty of health and fitness benefits. Wild swimming offers all these benefits of swimming too.

You can try different strokes to target different muscles. For example, front crawl and breast stroke require different movements and therefore work muscles slightly differently.

With all the extra practice, you’ll also become a better swimmer and can continue to push yourself.

 

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Getting Started with Wild Swimming

If you’re looking to give wild swimming a go, it’s best to do it with others or as part of a group/club. This ensures there are other swimmers around in case you need help.

Also, make sure you get advice on any water you intend to swim in, not all open water allows swimming.

Wild swimming isn’t dangerous, but it does carry risks if proper care isn’t taken. If conditions are not understood, this is when wild swimming can become dangerous.

Strong currents, low temperatures, deep water, and algae/vegetation, all pose risks but as long as you understand this and stay within your swimming capabilities, you’ll be fine. Again, this is where swimming with others will ensure you stay safe.

If you’re looking to continue your wild streak, check out our recent blog post on wild camping in the UK – the perfect accompaniment to your newfound love for wild swimming.

 

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11 Powerful Benefits of Wild Swimming for Over 50s

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