Swimming during the winter? Swimming and immersing oneself underneath ice? Surely these words put together sound like an activity that one would do if there is a need to be extremely ill. Being in cold waters is hard enough, so just imagine how difficult it would be do swim in freezing waters.
Though winter swimming sounds a bit strange strange and seemingly unhealthy, this is actually something that is celebrated and taken seriously by enthusiasts from all over the world. Famous in countries like Finland, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, ice swimming or winter swimming is an activity that actually has benefits that would improve one’s health.
Winter swimming could be synonymous with ice swimming, an activity in which someone swims in a body of water like a lake or sea with an opening. In the aforementioned countries, ice swimming is associated with their tradition of going to saunas–after getting a warm bath, one can already jump in the freezing water and swim. Usually, a hole is cut in the body of water having the temperature of around 0°C.
Because human beings originally had to bathe in cold water for centuries, adapting to the cold has always been part of human beings’ system. By immersing oneself in cold water, immunity is strengthened because a person’s internal temperature is balanced. We’re used to wrapping ourselves with the thickest clothes and using heated materials when faced with cold weather–while this is constantly necassary, the human temperature is brought to a much regulated state if the body learns to adjust to the cold. Studies indicate that it’s likely to lose internal heat faster when a system is not used to have this type of regulated temperature.
In the sauna tradition of Sweden, the person spends time in a heated room, and then jumps into the freezing pool. This is believed to be a method that will improve breathing and make the skin feel and appear better.
In Russia, ice swimming is a tradition that is believed to provide health benefits and as a ritual of the Orthodox Church. One of the stories behind this country’s winter swimming tradition is that about a thousand years ago, this was practiced by people who believed that their sins will be cleansed every time they would dive into freezing waters. This tradition has been carried by lots of people in the country, calling themselves “walruses” or “polar bears.”
If given the chance, would you try winter or ice swimming? Do you think you can handle the freezing temperature that goes with it? This is certainly something unique, and based on the health benefits mentioned above, it seems that this is also something very rewarding. The next time you find yourselves in one of these winter swimming destinations, perhaps you’d like to give this activity a shot, it definitely will be an experience that will create amazing memories, not to mention great health benefits!