Sea swimmers from Devon are taking part in a study looking at the benefits of cold water swimming on mental health.
One sea swimmer interviewed had been struggling with anxiety as a result of menopause. She said, ‘It’s a real feeling of dread when you wake up in the morning sometimes… The immersion of your body in cold salt water, just feeling like you’re at one with nature just feels amazing. Being in the sea just takes it all away.’
Doctors don’t know why sea swimming brings such benefits but they hypothesise that it could be one of two reasons. The first, that by getting into cold water the body is put under stress and learns to adapt through repetition. And the second is that cold water has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
When interviewed by the BBC, Consultant Anesthetist Dr Mark Harper said, ‘You’re getting all the benefits of an effective treatment for mental health and it costs the NHS next to nothing.’
The results will be shared in the next six months and findings could lead to more GPs prescribing open water swimming to people struggling with their mental health.
Watch the full BBC video on the benefits of sea swimming.