Wild Swimming- The Benefits
Most of us have enjoyed the thrill of an energising dip in the sea – and in the UK, thanks to an abundance of rivers and lakes and long stretches of unspoiled coast, we don’t have to go far to find a beautiful wild swimming spot. But it’s not just the spectacular views and connection with nature that entice growing numbers of people to swim outdoors.
What is Wild Swimming?
For those of you new to the term, wild swimming simply means swimming in a natural body of water. Rivers, seas and ponds are all welcome- so long as it’s not a chlorinated pool, it’s wild!
1. It Boost's Your Mood
Wild swimming has long been hailed by evangelists as a life tonic, and now a raft of studies point to its powerful, mood-boosting properties, and even suggest it may help ease symptoms of depression. Why? Experts say that plunging into cold water regularly relieves stress and anxiety by promoting the release of the “happy hormones” serotonin and dopamine.
2. It Calms Inflammation
Regular cold-water swimming decreases inflammation – a condition that is linked to a host of ailments from aches and pains to high blood pressure, arthritis and depression. Why? It’s all down to a process called cold water adaptation, which happens through regular swimming in cold water. By adapting to cold stress, your response to that cold stress becomes less marked and this adaptation may help high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and arthritis, by reducing inflammation in the body.
3. It's Meditative
When you’re swimming in cold water, you have no choice but to be in the moment. You’re focusing on your breathing, the feeling of cold water on your skin, the natural world around you. In short, wild swimming helps us disconnect from our busy lives.
4. Reduces Stress
An overload of the stress hormone cortisol can have a negative effect on health. This leads to anxiety, poor sleep and digestive problems, so it’s important to keep it in check – and wild swimming can help us do just that. It’s all down to the cold water adaption process again. Experts say that when you train your body to handle shock, pain and discomfort through repeated immersion in cold water, it can deal with smaller stresses more easily; regular, cold water dips reduce our reactions to stress and lower cortisol levels in our body.
5. It's FREE!
Wild Swimming is totally free so why not dip your toe in the water!
UK Spots for Wild Swimming:
- Serpentine Swimming Club – Perfect if you’re looking for a wild swim in London. Join the club and take a dip outside all year round
- Lower Ddwli Falls, Brecon Beacons – A stunning open pool located at the bottom of a waterfall.
- River Waveney, Bungay, Suffolk – A gentle river that’s also a popular spot for canoeing.
- Kisdon Force, River Keld, Yorkshire Dales – Two spectacular waterfalls in a woody gorge, both with deep plunge pools.
- Claverton Weir, River Avon, Somerset – A 100m-long weir with shallow paddling areas. The perfect spot for a family outing