The idea of jumping into freezing waters with nothing but a tiny swimsuit on to celebrate the new year might seem totally asinine to you. We get it. Who wants to spend their lazy New Year’s Day worrying about hypothermia when you could be cuddled up with a hot drink and Bailey’s?
But if you’re someone who has done it before you know that it can be invigorating and refreshing like nothing else. And that it shakes off any residue of a hangover better than any hair of the dog.
But what you might not know is that there are scientific benefits to jumping into that ice-cold water and that many countries, like Finland, have popular winter swimming clubs because of these health benefits. So before you solidify your plans for New Year’s Day, here are 4 reasons you should consider jumping in that freezing sea water with those nutty people dressed in nothing but a swimsuit and a toque.
In her book The Finnish Way, Katja Pantzar speaks with Professor Hannu Rintamaki who has studied the effects of Arctic weather on the human body. His research has shown that a dip of 30 seconds to one minute in about 4 degrees Celsius water creates something called a ‘hormone storm’. And that many of the hormones that make us happy like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, are pushed into acceleration.
It’s so effective in boosting moods that it’s even been studied as a treatment for anxiety and depression!
Katja Pantzar also totes a variety of anecdotal health evidence for winter swimming including easing aches and pains, reducing inflammation, and even being good for skin conditions like eczema. All of which makes sense since winter swimming is a proven method to get your blood pumping.
A study in Free Radical Medicine and Science published a study that explains “regular cold water immersion helps boost your body’s levels of the antioxidant glutathione, which in turn helps regulate the process of all other antioxidants in the body, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.”
We had always assumed that cold water is not good for one’s sex life (ahem). But in fact, studies have been shown that artic swimming is great for libido. Given that it’s been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, it makes sense that it would be good for us in the bedroom as well. But not only that, estrogen and testosterone have been shown to increase after taking a dip in freezing waters. So maybe schedule some time after your quick icy dip with a loved one?
Looking for more health inspiration for the new year? Read our article on Apps to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution next!