The fall and winter are a time renowned for the cold and flu, but taking a dip in cold water may actually prove to be beneficial to one’s health. A study out of the Czech Republic found that individuals who were immersed in cold water three times a week for one hour bouts enjoyed a significant increase in their white blood cell counts, as well as levers other factors that affect the immune system. The cause: the cold water, being a minor ‘stressor’, activated the immune system of these individuals which helped keep illness at bay.
Though we may look oddly upon those who swear by cold water swimming, we may have finally figured out why some select individuals enjoy swimming in cold water and during the colder months: it’s a natural high! Not only does the body release endorphins once it touches cold water, but the chill in the water will stimulate one’s parasympathetic system (the part of us that’s responsible for rest as well as repairing the body). This results in the release of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that keep us happy and stress-free.
Swimming is well known as being one of the best ways to exercise the entire body – especially the heart. But the additional cold in the water will increase the efficiency of your heart. The combination of having your heated body move through cold waters helps send blood to your bodily organs, while also bringing blood to the surface of your skin. This results in an increase in your circulation, as well as an increase in your ability to eliminate toxins from your body.