Wild swimming has become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially since the pandemic started and people began spending more time outside in nature.
Studies by Chris van Tulleken (University College London) and Professor Mike Tipton and Dr Heather Massey (University of Portsmouth) have examined the effectiveness of open-water swimming against mental health problems and general well-being.
Some benefits of wild swimming include:
- Boosting dopamine levels and endorphins – increasing feelings of pleasure and well-being and can help reduce pain and discomfort
- Being outdoors and connecting with nature has been proven to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing and help with feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Mindfulness – being present can be difficult, especially if you’re living a busy life, experiencing stress or worry, or suffering from a mental health condition. However, when immersed in cold water, surrounded by nature, most people find it easier to focus on the present moment.
- Connection – there are lots of cold-water or wild swimming groups around to join and they’re known to be friendly and welcoming so, it’s a great way to build new connections with people or, go with some people you already know to develop existing friendships.
- Exercise – Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for most people; it’s low-impact and joint friendly, a great form of cardio, can help lower blood pressure and increase immunity.
- Confidence boosting – There is research to support entering cold water can help build a mental resilience, helping to boost self esteem over time.
Before beginning any new physical activity, it’s always recommended to check with your GP first.
Please be aware of the risks involved with wild swimming: cold water, swell, rip currents, cold air temperature.
We’d recommend performing a risk assessment and keeping the following safety tips in mind:
- Make sure you’re prepared with the right kit – we recommend looking at products from brands such as Zone3 as they’re specifically designed for open water swimming.
- Only swim where its safe – make sure you can enter and exit the water easily
- Go with a swimming group, with someone else or stick to beaches where there are other people around like surfers, dog walkers etc
- Acclimatise to the cold to reduce shocking your system – enter the water slowly
- Know your limits and reduce the amount of time spent in the water as the temperature drops
- Warm up slowly – hot drinks and warm, dry clothes are best. Something like a Dryrobe, Gul Evorobe or Sola Waterproof Changing Coat are great additions for this.