With the mercury rising, we’re all looking for the most optimal way to cool down this summer. Outdoor swimming — also often known as “wild swimming” — is one of the most popular ways to not only stay cool, but compound your physical and mental health goals, including fostering a sense of community, nixing stress, topping-up your vitamin D and connecting both with nature and like-minded individuals with a penchant for chilly water.
If you’re based in the UK, we’ve assembled a list of the best lidos to visit in London and across the country. Similarly, if you want to crank up the intensity, these pool workouts from professional swim coach Arvids Freidenfelds will do just that. Let’s start with the benefits…
Natural Stress Relief
Outdoor swimming provides a unique opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Immersing yourself in the natural environment can help reduce stress, calm the mind, and promote relaxation. The combination of fresh air, sunlight, and the soothing sounds of nature can have a positive impact on your overall well-being. Vitamin D, for example, comes from sunlight and can keep your bones, teeth and muscles healthy. More on that below.
Enhanced Physical Fitness
Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups, from your calves to your shoulders. When you swim outdoors, you not only reap the physical benefits of swimming but also enjoy the additional challenges posed by natural elements such as currents and waves. As any swimmer can attest, this can lead to improved cardiovascular health, increased stamina, and of course, better musculature.
Vitamin D Boost
Outdoor swimming allows you to soak up the sun’s rays, which is a natural source of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health, immune function, and mood regulation. Spending time in the sun while swimming can help your body produce this essential vitamin and promote overall health.
Connection with Nature
Swimming in natural bodies of water allows you to connect with the environment in a unique way. You can experience the beauty of nature, observe aquatic life, and appreciate the calming effects of water. This connection with nature has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health, promoting a sense of peace and connection to the world around you.
Increased Mental Resilience
Swimming outdoors in varying weather conditions can help build mental resilience and adaptability. Whether it’s dealing with the cold water, adjusting to changing currents, or overcoming initial fears, outdoor swimming challenges you both physically and mentally. Over time, you develop greater mental strength, perseverance, and a sense of accomplishment.
Did you know?
Swimming in cold water has been associated with numerous health benefits. Cold water immersion therapy is known to improve circulation, boost the immune system, and increase the release of endorphins, which can elevate mood and reduce pain perception. Not just that, but the ‘blue mind effect’ — a biological and neural byproduct swimming in natural water environments — has been found to induce a state characterised by increased calmness, clarity, and feelings of well-being. The combination of water, nature, and physical activity has a profound effect on mental health, reducing stress and promoting positive emotions.