After you get over the initial shock, you'll really feel the physical and mental health benefits of swimming outside. Come on, the water's lovely!
In July's Country Living magazine (available to buy now!), we have a wonderful feature on the top 10 lidos in the country to visit this summer. From Devon, to Aberdeen, to Yorkshire, these outdoor pools combine physical exercise, mental calm and the wonders of fresh air.
Make sure you read the feature to find the nearest (and best) lido near you.
But, in the meantime, there are many physical and mental health benefits that come with swimming outdoors. Here are 10 of the most important to get you in the mood for a dip...
1. It helps you sleep better
We've all seen athletes plunge into ice baths to relieve muscle soreness. This is because our parasympathetic systems, responsible for rest and repair, are stimulated by cold water. Cold water swimmers often speak about being able to sleep particularly well after a quick dip.
2. It gets your blood pumping and improves circulation
A 2012 study of 43 older men and women found that those who swam a few times a week lowered their systolic blood pressure. This is because when we are cold, blood rushes to our organs – urging our hearts to work a little bit harder. A regular dip will help flush circulation and pump blood through capillaries, veins and arteries.
3. It's nice and easy on your joints
Water is 12 times denser than air and acts as a sort of cushion to our bodies as we exercise - causing no stress to the skeletal system.This is why swimming is so good for those with injuries. This low-impact aerobic exercise and is often advised to those suffering from arthritis.
4. It's an immune booster
Diving into ice cold water can cause quite a shock to the system… Particularly the immune system. A Czech study found a significant increase in the white blood cell counts of subjects immersed in cold water for one hour. This is because the immune system feels as though it's being attacked and is startled into action.
5. It enhances happiness
Swimmers often report a "high" after delving into cold water, and many people take regular dips to fend off depression. This addictive sense of well-being and happiness is all down to endorphins. The body's natural painkillers – these happy hormones kick in when you jump in to take the sting away from the cold. The cold also triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin - which help keep us chirpy.
6. It's great for the skin
Immersing yourself in cold water has an exfoliant effect on skin - helping it appear smoother. The cold also improves circulation which helps combat cellulite and flush out impurities. What's more - when we're cold, blood rushes to the skins surface creating a glowy effect.
7. It increases your metabolism
Swimming in itself is great exercise, but delving into cold water helps to burn extra calories. This is because your body has to work twice as hard to keep you warm and get you back to your normal temperature. Your metabolism can increase by up to 550% of its resting level.
8. It increases fertility
Research suggests that men and women who regularly swim in cold water produce more estrogen and testosterone – hormones which play an important part in increasing fertility levels.
9. It has a calming effect
Swimming creates the same relaxation responses as yoga and is highly conducive to meditation. Many outdoor swimmers speak about the calming effect the exercise has on them, which lasts all day.
10. It increases alertness
If you struggle to stay awake in the morning, a plunge into cold water ought to help you out. The shock of cold will create a surge of adrenaline making you feel alert and energized.