Seawater is rich in vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, sodium, calcium, chloride and sulphate that work as natural cosmetics for our skin. Those with issues such as psoriasis and eczema may see particular benefit. The magnesium in seawater also lowers cortisol levels in the body, calming the nervous system and reducing the likelihood of stress-induced skin breakouts.
2. Immune System
By immersing yourself both in nature and the cold water, you will naturally encounter more germs. This is not necessarily a bad thing, provided you have got your flu vaccine and make sure to warm up quickly after getting out. Regular dips in cold water helps regulate your antioxidant processes in the body, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Trace elements and micro-organisms found in seawater also have anti-bacterial properties and can therefore act as natural antibiotics. These components are absorbed by the skin, helping to enhance the body’s health & well-being.
3. Mental Health & Well-Being
Probably the main benefit of sea-swimming is to do with mental health.
- Hydrotherapy – typically known to help people with chronic joint pain and arthritis – has also been known to reduce levels of anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that water therapy helps increase the production of beta-endorphins (the ‘feel good’ molecules). Research has shown that those consistently swim have made less frequent visits to a mental health professional
- Immersing yourself in deep, cold water shocks the body and makes you think about only what you are doing in that moment. For this reason, it is the ultimate form of mindfulness and almost like a calming meditation, as you only have the space to focus on your breath. The breathing control involved in swimming in fact slows down the mind and body and reduces stress
- A study commissioned by Swim England to coincide with 'World Mental Health Day' found that when queried about the impact swimming has on their day-to-day life, 43% of people who swim regularly said it makes them feel happier, 26% are more motivated to complete daily tasks while 15% believe life feels more manageable
- Time spent in nature proven to reduce stress levels as well as your risk of developing depression and other mental illnesses, so taking your swimming to the sea instead of an indoor pool is a great way to help both your body and mind
- Rich in magnesium, seawater can also relax your muscles and promote deep sleep
4. Respiratory issues
As sea water is salty, this is beneficial for those with sinus issues, providing relief by opening up the area with an all-natural saline solution. This helps the cilia to move mucus, clearing sinuses.
5. Weight management
There are two different types of fat in the body – brown and white fat. We mostly hold on to the white fat, however studies have shown that the less common brown fat can be activated by cold water. Not only does brown fat keep you warm, but as its job to raise body temperature it also quickly burns through calories and will also help you shed excess weight.
6. Cold Water Therapy
A blast of cold water has its own health benefits:
- Builds mental strength – immersing yourself in cold water on a regular basis produces a positive pain-like effect that provides benefits to your body and mind
- Reduces muscle pain – cold water and bathing in ice have long been linked with helping to reduce inflammation and speed up muscle recovery
- Increase blood flow and circulation – nutrients and skin significant hormones can quickly travel to the surface resulting in a lit-from-within glow
Staying safe in the sea
- Know your limits
- Swim with others – don’t head out alone, go in company
- Respect the power of the ocean - turn back if the water looks too rough. You always have to remember this is not your habitat and the ocean can be unpredictable. Find a safe place and make sure you know the tides
- When you get of the water, it's important to change into your clothes quickly and get back into a warm environment because your body temperature can continue to drop
- Be aware that hypothermia is a risk, even for experienced swimmers
- Wear a wet suit - the cold water causes cramping which can be dangerous. You lose heat rapidly when surrounded by cold water
- Don't go too far out and swim parallel to the shore
- If you know you have a cardiac problem you should talk to your GP before going open water swimming
Check out the Irish Water Safety website for more tips on staying safe in the sea.