You may not associate January with trips to the beach for a quick dip, however it could be just what you need to kick-start your 2019 wellness initiatives into action. For most of us, the idea sounds like absolute hell and the body's initial response to being submerged in cold water will likely reinforce these fears; think painful sensations on the skin, uncontrollable teeth chattering and uncomfortable numbness.
But then, once the initial shock starts to subside and the body's internal temperature gauge begins to level up with the freezing external temperatures, your body enters a state of deep and transformative healing.
Below is a list of bodily functions that are boosted and revitalised during and after a cold water swim:
Submerging your body in cold water has a twofold affect on your bodies defence system. Firstly, the physical response to the cold water is for your muscles and blood vessels to contract. This in turn activates the lymphatic system, which is responsible for flushing out toxins and harmful bacteria from the body. White blood cells respond to the toxins that have been released into the bodily fluids and attack unwanted foreign visitors, including cold and flu viruses, protecting you from disease.
Subjecting your body to a dip in cold water acts to massively boost your metabolism. In fact, cold water immersion has been shown to boost the metabolism increasing whole body metabolic rate by about 16%. Also, bringing the body's temperature back up after it has been dramatically reduced burns a significant amount of additional calories.
Taking the plunge in freezing cold water is a shock to the system and effectively hits your bodies refresh button. Since the days of Greek medicine, water has been used for it's healing properties: "Cold water constricts the blood vessels, stimulates circulation, improves digestion and metabolism, awakens the appetite and has an overall exhilarating effect on the body."
The perceived pain of icy water coming into direct contact with the skin prompts the brain to release endorphins. This means that you'll feel a high from cold water swimming that should serve to negate any initial discomfort. In fact, studies have found that regular cold water swimming could be an effective treatment for depression. Suffering from a touch of the January blues? Maybe it's time to dig out your cozzy and get yourself down to the water's edge.