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The benefits of cold water swimming

Middle of winter. Time for a dip in the local lake? Er, we think not! Indeed, swimming in an ice cold lake doesn’t seem like a particularly safe option, unless you are going with a group of experienced people and your heart is in good health. However, according to research – and a few hardy individuals – cold water swimming is exactly what the doctor should be ordering. People have been cold water swimming in eastern Europe and the Netherlands for thousands of years. And many people believe that taking a dip in an ice cold pool is good for pain relief. In fact, research reveals that taking a plunge in cold water increases norepinephrine, which is a natural painkiller. And, over time, this can stimulate the immune system. Which is why cold water swimming – or a cold water plunge pool – is recommended for people with arthritis or injuries. The research reports: "People experience sometimes two or three days of feeling better after just two or three minutes in the cold plunge." Plunging several times a week can also strengthen your immune system. But it’s recommended that people build it up. The feeling of such extreme cold can be overwhelming (and is definitely not for those with health problems.) But one fan of cold water swimming says the endorphin rush is like nothing else. He describes the feeling: "It's one heck of a shock. My skin just comes alive. I’m beaming inside.”

Make your own cold water plunge pool

Not everyone has access to a cold plunge pool or the ability to go for a swim in the safe environment of a cold water lake. Instead, you could try this at home: Fill your bath with ice and water. Then get into the water and try to sit in it for at least a minute… building up with repeated cold water bathings to three minutes. Three to four times a week is apparently the required number of times for effective pain relief and an immune system boost.


  • Pauline – you are absolutely right. I regularly cold swim as well and the physical and psychological benefits are huge.
    No doubt the two pill popping advisors below you have other ideas apart from coming across as sad….

  • i am an open water swimmer who tries to swim all year round, my health over all is great, mentally swimming is an amazing tool both for chilling out (no pun intended) or for concentrating. The endorphins during and following a swim can last for hours and depending on the swim and its location even several days. Outside fresh air, amazing scenery, like minded swimmers, yes its cold at times and even colder at other times, but you can become acclimatised. Aches and pains disappear, physical movement can be made possible again! Once out of the water you feel alive, every part of your body and mind singing with the thrill of being in, and more often than not you really do want to get straight back in again.

    pauline squire
  • try neurofen next time weirdo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    anthony spark
  • i agree with Antony spark

  • Ive heard of a better way to relieve pain there’s these little pills called neurofen right and they relieve pain without you having to get in a freezing cold bath I’m just saying its a lot normal er than your way.

    anthony spark

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