Winter bathing – do it!
Winter bathing is a popular outdoor recreational activity in the Scandinavian and Nordic regions. Also known as ice bathing, it involves dipping or swimming in unheated pools, the ocean or lakes with temperatures as low as 2 degrees for anywhere between 10 seconds and 2 minutes.
Winter bathing is an integral part of the culture and tradition of most Northern European countries. There are even festivals dedicated to it, such as the Skagen Winter Swimming Festival in Denmark. In addition, there are over 93 established winter bathing clubs in the same country, with over 25,000 members. Vikings!
In recent years, it has become a fast-growing trend around the rest of Europe. You might wonder why! Who would want to go dipping in ice-cold water? The truth: studies have shown that winter bathing is associated with several health benefits. And quite fun and feel good feeling when you get going.
Before giving you tips on how to get started on the winter bathing trend, let us first take a look at some of the benefits you stand to gain from winter bathing:
- Winter bathing might help boost the immune system by increasing the white blood cells in the body, increasing resistance to illnesses such as the common cold.
- Winter bathing could help improve your mood by stimulating the release of dopamine and endorphins, which are hormones known to trigger positive and pleasurable feelings (nice!).
- Winter bathing could reduce your stress levels by releasing hormones that help with stress management, including cortisol, noradrenaline, and endorphins (nice!)
- Winter bathing could improve blood circulation because it makes the heart pump more blood around the body in a bid to prevent body core temperature from dropping while swimming (nice!).
- Winter bathing is a great way to meet new people and make friends, whether you are a tourist or a local (also nice!).
Game on! And bring friends
If you are winter bathing for the first time, you should avoid doing it alone. Instead, it is best to go in groups and ensure that at least one person in the group is an experienced winter bather. This is to ensure that adequate assistance is available in case of an emergency. Beware of ice on stairs and bridges.
Alos more fun afterwards to have friends along. Bring some good coffee or hot chocolate. Other tips is to go for a walk or run before your go bathing. Magic to go winterbathing after you have been active.
Experts recommend that beginners should not be in a hurry to get in the water. Immerse the body gently in the water. Diving straight into the ice water can give you a cold water shock or make you gasp and swallow a lungful of water. Instead, you should slowly immerse yourself in the water to give your body the time it needs to adapt. When in the water: breath calmy, keep an eye on each other, stay close to stairs, never swim under ice. We challenge you that you can not manage 10 seconds the first time in 4 (ish) degrees water. And dip yourself at least 2 times. The second time is always best ..
Wear the right kit
When winter bathing, you should put on warm and protective clothing that could help preserve some of your body heat for longer. You could wear a swimming hat (often woolly hats or earmuffs) or a classic Fat Moose beanie around your head to keep your head warm.
When you come out of the water, ensure to take off your swimwear (we suggest bathing nude) immediately and dress in warmer clothing to slowly regulate your core temperature. Also, do not take a hot shower immediately, as this would quickly warm up your core, resulting in reduced blood flow to the less warm extremities.
Whether you are a beginner or an expert, here are a few ways to ensure you’re swimming safely:
- It might help if you familiarise yourself with the water and swimming environments before fully bathing.
- Do not spend more than 30 seconds in the water initially. You could increase the duration with time, but ensure you never stay in for more than 2 minutes at a stretch.
- Check the weather forecast to know what weather to expect and how to prepare for it. This is especially important in the Scandinavians, where the weather is wildly unstable. Bathing is not always the coldest, the wind is…
- It is not advisable to winter bathe in the dark, but if you want to, make sure you have enough lighting to find the right one when you get out of the water.
- If you have underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure or heart conditions, you might consult with a doctor before going winter bathing.
- Know the rescue equipment
Winter swimming is very popular in the Nordic countries and is gradually sweeping across Europe. Given the health benefits it offers, it's totally worth it. You will love it (hopefully). Some of our staff do it often. The best thing to feel completely alive!