Cold water swimming may seem like the newest craze on Instagram, but there’s a good reason behind it. Cold water therapy has a long list of health benefits, from improving circulation to reducing symptoms of depression. So while it might seem a bit mad to throw yourself into the cold ocean, it might just be worth it!
What exactly is Cold Water Therapy?
Cold water therapy is the practice of immersing yourself in water that is, as you might have guessed, cold. Water temperatures below 15ºc are used, with some seasoned cold water swimmers braving temperatures of just a few degrees.
This can be done with cold showers or baths, ice baths, or swimming in cold bodies of water like lakes, rivers, or the sea. It won’t come as a surprise that the sea is our cold dip of choice!
Is Cold Water Therapy good for you?
Cold water therapy has a number of health benefits that can improve your overall feeling of well-being.
- Less muscle soreness. There are a number of studies that show athletes who participate in cold water therapy after exercise experience less muscle pain and a swifter recovery. This is because the cold water causes blood vessels to restrict, this reduces blood flow to the area – reducing swelling and pain.
- Eases symptoms of depression. While cold water therapy can’t cure any mental illnesses, there are a number of studies that show that regular open water swimming or cold showers may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Boosts your immune system. There are a number of studies that suggest that cold water therapy can boost your immune system, which could improve your ability to fight illness. Summer colds be gone!
How can I use Cold Water Therapy?
If you want to experience the benefits of cold water therapy – and you’re feeling brave – there are a number of ways to get started.
You can try cold showers; either turning the shower down to cold towards the end of your shower or skipping the warm all together and start your day in cold water. It will definitely wake you up!
Cold water swimming is our preferred way to get our cold water therapy hit, any excuse to get in the sea! You don’t have to be near the sea to enjoy this method though; rivers, lakes, and outdoor pools all have great cold water swimming potential. Just be sure to follow the safety tips below.
How to Cold Water Swim safely
While cold water swimming has many benefits there are risks to the practice, so it is important to ensure you do it as safely as possible.
Always check with your doctor first. The shock of cold water can be dangerous so it’s a good idea to know that you are in good health before starting.
If you are open water swimming always stay within your depth, you can fatigue quicker in cold water making it difficult to swim back to shore.
You should also always have a spotter with you, cold water can leave people disorientated and this can be very dangerous when swimming.
Make sure you get warm after you get out. Put on a hat and gloves and change out of your wet clothes as soon as you can. A hot drink can also help massively. Moving around is a great way to get your blood flowing and raise your body temperature. Avoid getting into a hot shower too quickly, the sudden change in blood flow can cause you to pass out.
You don’t need to stay in for long, a few minutes maximum. Your tolerance will increase over time but there are no health benefits for staying in more than a few minutes.
Top Cold Water Swimming spots near us
There’s obviously one very big, and very obvious place for us to get our cold water therapy fix in Widemouth, and that’s the Atlantic! But conditions aren’t always suitable for a quick dip, particularly in the winter when the waves get bigger. Luckily we have a few favourite spots to get chilly in!
Built in the 1930s, Bude Sea Pool is a tidal swimming pool perfect for getting your salt water fix without the waves. This makes it perfect for less strong swimmers or beginners to cold water swimming.
Before the sea pool was constructed, Tommy’s Pit was a gentlemen’s only bathing pool. Located on the Breakwater on Summerleaze Beach, Tommy’s Pit is a beautiful place for a sheltered swim while still feeling completely surrounded by nature.
Goldiggins Quarry – Bodmin
A little further afield but if you fancy some fresh water swimming, Goldiggins Quarry on Bodmin Moor is the perfect spot. Filled with a deep blue, spring-fed water the quarry feels like a magical secret, and one that we strongly recommend discovering for yourself!
You may be looking at the cold water swimmers on Instagram and thinking they’re all mad, and maybe we are. But while it’s a strange old hobby, it’s also quite addictive, and we encourage you to give it a go. Even just once! Maybe we’ll see you in the sea soon, it’s worth the goosebumps!
OA Stay offers a great base to explore the ocean and cold water swimming spots around North Cornwall, book your stay now!