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5 Ways Cold Water Swimming Offers Health Benefits

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For most people, jumping into the water during the winter seems insane. Surfers know that swimming is awesome any time of year, even if they ultimately don wet suits. It’s common to see visitors from Canada lounging in the ocean in temperatures that would drive a good many of us into the closest heated building looking for hot cocoa or coffee to warm us up. Here are some reasons that might change your mind about dipping your toes into the ocean, or better yet attending one of the local Polar Plunges on New Year’s Day!

Burns Calories

Have you ever heard that shivering actually burns calories? Well, there is a reason for that. Shivering actually burns around 100 calories in 15 minutes by secreting a hormone, irisin, that creates heat production from fat cells. Swimming in cold water works your body twice as hard as swimming in more temperate water, and your body’s long term metabolism increases. Therefore, taking a quick dip in the ocean is a healthy option to improve your body’s muscle-to-fat ratio.

Increases Circulation

When your body goes through a variety of temperature changes, it adapts by either sending more blood to vessels closer to the skin during a warm spell or by sending it closer to the organs to protect them from extreme cold. Immersing yourself in for a quick dip in the ocean followed by either a sauna or warm shower helps to increase these types of blood circulation. When blood flows outward, the skin’s complexion improves by allowing impurities to escape. Improving circulation is extremely beneficial during winter months for your extremities as well, as repeated exposure to cold and heat increases blood flow.

Boosts Immune System

Some medical studies have shown a correlation of white blood cell counts in cold weather swimmers than other swimmers. Cold weather swimmers swear that they have increased “brown fat”, which is considerably better than “white fat”. Brown fat burns more calories and increases heat production in the cells.

Natural High

Endorphins are released during a quick cold water swim and may offer benefits to people suffering from a variety of symptoms stemming from RA, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. The painkiller effect can be addictive, as people suffering from these conditions may find a few minutes of cold water swimming beneficial for several hours. Jumping into the ocean will also increase the release of dopamine and serotonin that aid in treating depression. Working through your parasympathetic system, these neurotransmitters are vital to our happiness.

Less Stress, Better Sex

Unlike the commonly held belief that jumping into a cold shower will reduce the yearning for sex, jumping head first (no pun intended) into the ocean may have the opposite effect. Researchers have found that people who endure the occasional cold shower, or cold ocean swim, have increased testosterone or estrogen, men and women respectively. These hormones are imperative to libido as well as fertility, and increased levels offer higher pleasurable experiences for both sexes. One old wives tale suggests that men who are worried about fertility should “dip their testicles” in cold water daily! In any event, taking a dip, however you choose to do it, will now be a lot more fun.

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