The benefits of cold water swimming

The benefits of cold water swimming

The benefits of cold water swimming 

We’re big fans of cold water swimming here at Love Ocean and clearly we’re not the only ones as it has become more and more popular in the last few years. But while wild swimming and ice tubs in people’s gardens are all over social media, beloved by celebrities and regularly featured on TV shows, cold water therapy isn’t really anything new. In fact, historians have traced it back as far as Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, when it was used for both relaxation and health reasons.

These days one of the most common reasons cold water therapy (water below 15°C) is used is for recovery after exercise, but we thought we’d look at some of the other benefits.

Mental wellbeing

Research in the journal Biology found that cold water swimming “reduces fatigue, lessens depressive symptoms and improves general well-being”. Adults also reported feeling happier, alert and positive after a five-minute session. Being immersed in cold water also causes you to focus on your breathing (and ignore your stinging skin!) which is excellent for maintaining concentration and achieving a sense of calm. It can be a great stress reliever after a busy day at work or with the kids!


Cold water can also be hugely beneficial for people with neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Exposure to the cold can cause your body to release the hormone and neurotransmitter norepinephrine and the hormone dopamine, which some people with ADHD may have low levels of. Norepinephrine and dopamine help with focus, attention, creating a natural high and improved mood and are the same chemicals released by ADHD medications. One study found that immersion in cold water increased people’s blood levels of noradrenaline by 530% and dopamine by 250%.

Physical wellbeing

There are just as many physical benefits of cold water therapy as there are for your mental health. As we said above, an ice bath or cold water swim can be great for easing muscle pain and stiffness after exercising. It can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol. And it can give your immune system a good boost too, which should reduce your susceptibility to infections or illnesses.

And if you’re regularly swimming in cold water then this is also great for muscle tone, building stamina and heart and lung health. If you’re swimming in the sea then an additional benefit is that the saltwater is also great for your skin and hair.  Our fantastic oceans are full of minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron and potassium and seasalt can also remove toxins from your body and skin. So what’s stopping you from jumping in?!


Please note: If you’ve not done cold water therapy before it’s important to build up the time spent in the water gradually to reduce the risk of cold water shock. If you have heart problems or asthma, speak to your GP before trying it.