Swimming in cold water or winter bathing as it is referred to appear to be benefiting from a global boost during the pandemic, with individuals seeking to break the boredom, create a sense of community, and enhance their physical and mental health. Some research also seem to be confirming the claims, however, the practice could also be dangerous, to the point of being fatal. The strongest proof of its advantages is subjective.
According to Gail McCallen, a fifty-seven years old decorator from Seattle stated that it makes her feel alive. She said that this requires more intense focus than swimming in warm water and when she is able to accomplish it, it makes her feel like superwoman.
Cold water immersion could take several forms
Cold water immersion, has been here since the days of Pharaoh, and could be seen in many forms: many persons simply plunge in and out; others, wade around for roughly five to six minutes, and at time submerse their heads, while there are others that swim for a longer time.
There are those that wear regular swimsuits and others that wear wetsuits, mainly those that swim around for about twenty to forty minutes, they also dress in gloves, neoprene socks, a swim cap and a hat. The temperature of the water could be anywhere around eighty degrees Fahrenheit.
The majority of people take the plunge in groups via clubs that are well organized, others simply link up with friends and share some hot chocolate directly after the plunge. According to those that complete this invigorating activity, it is not recommended to try this on your own, going solo holds no appeal whatsoever. The possible danger and shared thrill, ignites strong bonds. McCallen states that when they complete the swim, they marvel at the fete that they just survived and talk with each other.
Breathing strategies along with much others allow the experience to be much safer and more sufferable, and as each plunge is completed the mind and the body become accustomed.
In the United States the demand for wetsuits have left retailers struggling to keep up, with persons have to purchase suits that could not fit because of the short supply. According to a triathlete named Tipton, he expects the increase in the interest has something to do with the fact that the lockdown have made it easier to circumvent most physical uneasiness when, as a matter of fact that is precisely what is required of the human body to acclimatize and flourish.
As it relates to cold water specifically, getting in is difficult on the body to say the least. Initially it brings to mind a cold shock reaction or the fight or flight response which sends blood speeding towards the brain and the heart, increases the heart rate, speeds up the breathing and evokes a quiver and catch your breath reflex. Emily Johnson, who is an exercise physiologist, stated that if a person quickly submerges themselves into cold water and the gasp it timed incorrectly, that person could actually allow cold water into their lungs and this could be potentially dangerous.
Placing your head fully under the cold water, will activate a response known as the diving reflex, which counteracts the cold shock response by signaling the body to breathe slower and reduce the heart rate. In combination with each other, the reactions could result in the person suffering a heart arrhythmia or even death.
In some very rare cases, cold water immersion, specifically for prolonged periods of time could result in tetany, which a condition that causes the heart to freeze and stop.
However, persons that are winter bathing enthusiast discover methods to manage the associated risks, the basics include, beginning with short, not totally freezing immersions, going in a group, wearing appropriate gear if so desired, ensuring that individuals do not suffer from any heart or other condition that could place them in even more danger, changing into dry, warm clothes instantaneously afterwards.
These cold water devotees report that the benefits are well worth the risk. The state that they feel alive and alert, due to the same fight or flight reaction that could place them in danger. There are also those cold water swimmers that search for the boost to their metabolism, there are also those the tout the enhanced immune functions.
Another chief alleged advantage of cold water immersion is reduced inflammation. That assists the body in better handling all different sorts of stressors and decreases the probability of depression, Alzheimer’s disease, type II diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and heart disease, plus so much more.
As a scientist is it easy to conjure up some sketchy evidence, however, the question still remains as to what the reason for the benefits really were. Could it be the nature, the feelings of association or connection, the physical activity, the sense of accomplishment, the cold water or the distraction? The active ingredient in this needs to be discovered.
In due course, classifying the active ingredient might result in treatments using a nominal effective dosage approach, specifically for individuals suffering from conditions such as dementia, for which cold water immersion swimming is completely out of the question, however, what if it only took immersing the person’s foot or hand to the beneficial effects?
However, this is not the primary concern currently with those that just love the activity. They are just simply embracing the feeling of euphoria in a year of feeling mainly pain.