Sea swimming: how can taking the plunge benefit your health?
Think swimming in the sea should be saved for the Med? Well, think again. If you’re planning a staycation in Ireland this year – or even just a weekend jaunt to the seaside with the kids in tow – taking a dip could have a lot more benefits than you realise.
- Skin: Sea water has benefits for those with skin conditions, due to it being rich in minerals such as magnesium. Those with issues such as psoriasis and eczema may see particular benefit. Magnesium lowers cortisol, calming your nervous system, and reducing the potential for stress-prompted skin issues.
- Mental health: Hydrotherapy of all sorts has been shown to decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. focusing on your breath can act almost as a form of calming meditation. The necessary breathing control involved in swimming can slow you down and reduce stress.
- Respiratory issues: As we all know, sea water is salty. This is beneficial for those with sinus issues, providing relief by opening up the area with nature’s very own saline solution! This helps the cilia to move mucus, clearing sinuses.
- The feelgood factor: Cold water (like the Irish Sea or Atlantic Ocean) can give us a jolt of adrenaline. This burst can change our focus from physical ailments, and this diversion can give relief for some types of pain.
Of course, let’s not forget that it’s Ireland we’re dealing with here. That means that sea temperatures average between 7.5 and 9 degrees in April – which is pretty cold. This is why, despite the great and diverse benefits of taking a sea swim, you should also be aware of the potential risks too.
Irish Water Safety advises anyone who wants to swim in the sea, particularly in colder months, to “get in, get out, warm up!” Often extreme cold is not experienced in the water, only becoming apparent when back on the shore. Cold can be debilitating and genuinely dangerous. Therefore on principle:
- Those with heart problems should always consult a doctor before considering a cold water swim of any sort
- Don’t swim in the sea alone
- Respect the power of the ocean, no matter how strong a swimmer you consider yourself
- Know your limits and take no risks
- Don’t go for a swim in inclement weather
- Never swim when tired, cold or after a meal or with alcohol taken
- Only swim in an areas officially marked safe for bathing
Once you’re smart and safe, swimming in the sea can be great for your health – both mental and physical. As well as lots of fun for the whole family!