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What cold water can do for you?

Cold water swimming has gained popularity lots over the last few years, especially the Wim Hof method! But what can cold water do for you, and what are the benefits, and possible side effects of cold water immersion. Is it for you? Cold water is anything 15 degrees Celsius and below - so most of the UK, most of the time. Anything under this temperature means you get the benefits of the cold.

1 - Reduced Inflammation - Cold water reduces blood flow to the area, limiting the rush of blood and so reducing inflammation. People will often take ice baths or cold plunges after exercising to help with muscle soreness. Although the studies do point to people feeling less sore there needs to be more research.

2 - Endorphin High - lots of cold water enthusiasts will explain how after dipping they feel a rush of happiness and feel great the rest of the day.

3 - Increased Circulation - cold water stimulates your cardiovascular system, strengthening it over time, meaning your risk of disease decreases!

4 - Immune Boost - Cold water simulates pathogens, so your immune system is more ready to deal with any threats when they do occur. A study found people who regularly cold dipped had a faster, and stronger immune response when infected with a common bacteria...meaning they recovered quicker and suffered less.

5 - Weight Loss - the jury...or scientists are out on this one. Supposedly dipping in cold water boosts your metabolism, and in one study participants saw up to 16% metabolic increase. However it was a small study and more research is needed.

And what about the risks?

1 - After drop - a very unpleasant feeling when the cold blood from your extremities mixes with your warm core blood after exiting the water. Overall you blood temp drops meaning you feel much colder, can experience violent shakes and shivers, and sometime fainting

2 - Cold shock - an involuntary gasp and hyperventilation when you enter cold water, this can be life threatening and is why you should enter slowly until you cold shock response has gone - normally within 60 seconds.

3 - Cold Water Urticaria - hives induced from cold water. Hives are red welts that swell, are painful and itchy.

4 - Cramp - you are more likely to get cramp when in cold water. Tow floats are so essential while swimming as it give you something to hold onto incase of times like when both calves cramp at the same time!

5 - Pre-Existing - some health concerns will get worse when you're cold. Asthma and Raynaud's for instance can be triggered by the cold. Stay safe, swim in a group, be prepared, float to live

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