We live on the edge of an estuary and since the beginning of Spring – 1st September - I have donned my Covertogs and swum for at least 10 minutes each day. The water is still cold here and its always a shock to the system for the first minute or so. But amazingly by the time I get out, I feel warmer than I did when I got in.
To understand the biology of this phenomenon, I heard an interview on RNZ about cold water swimming with public health expert Grant Schofield. Here is a link to the interview:
Schofield explains that the stress induced by the cold water helps turn "white fat" to "brown fat” and that brown fat is highly metabolically active and acts like a little internal heater. So that’s why I start to feel warm after a minute or 2 in the water.
I also learnt that the stress required to take the plunge is beneficial – the body learns to not only adapt to the stress but it improves the system.
"Stress, whether it be exercise, whether it be some time without food, whether it be hot or cold, means that this hugely adaptive system of humanity builds itself better than it was before.” (Schofield, RNZ)*
Although more research needs to be done, it seems that there are potentially multiple mental and physical health benefits of cold water swimming.
I’m super impressed in how it seems to have improved my health and well being. Its super cool!
PS Having the additional cover from Covertogs makes it a little less stressful getting from the warmth of the home to the edge of estuary, and it reduces the wind chill, but after that, you may as well be wearing a bikini (:
*Dive in! The benefits of cold-water swimming. From Nine To Noon, 10:05 am on 31 August 2021