For those people who have consigned their swimming togs to the back of the drawer until next summer, it might be time to think again. While sea swimming has grown hugely in popularity in recent years, and especially during lockdown, a new book provides even more reasons to keep it going even as temperatures drop.
In, Dr Susanna Søberg explores the science behind the claims that taking a dip in cold water is one of the best things you can do for your health. The book delves into the ‘cold shock’ effect and says that those who take the plunge will feel a range of benefits, from the surge in feel-good hormones to the relief of pain.
- Cold-water swimming has many beneficial effects on the body including:
- Temporarily impairs cognitive function — meditative state.
- Increases endorphins, an important hormone and neurotransmitter for pain relief and mood.
- Activates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases noradrenaline, an essential hormone for activating your cold response and healthy brown fat.
- Activates the parasympathetic nervous system and stabilizes serotonin and cortisol.
- Increases noradrenaline and cortisol by activating your cold-shock response and all your muscles.
- Increases immune response (leucocytes and monocytes), leading to fewer infections.
- Cold-water habituation decreases blood pressure, circulating levels of lipids, blood sugar, noradrenaline and cortisol — anti-inflammatory effect and potential reduction of atherosclerosis.
- Cold-water habituation increases insulin sensitivity — prevention of type 2 diabetes.
- Anti-inflammatory effect — reduction in swelling and joint pain.