FORBES – Although swimming naked in cold water during the hardest days of winter could seem like an activity for the brave at heart, it’s a growing trend gaining momentum among everybody over the age of 16 around Europe.
The main reasons for the popularity of what’s known as ‘Viking style swimming’—in addition to its daring nature and the simple thrill—are the mental and physical health benefits attached to immersing oneself into freezing water for one or two minutes at a time.
The benefits of polar plunges: increase of libido
An icy dip reportedly induces the release of adrenaline, serotonin, cortisol and dopamine which translate, among other benefits, into boosts of the immune system, improvement of blood circulation,, burning of calories and reduction of stress.
Add to that list an increase in the capacity to cope with stressful situations and the reduction both of inflammation and risk of depression.
A recent study in Scandinavia of young men who participate regularly in these polar plunges shows that winter swimming may allow the body to adapt better to extreme temperatures.
“Up here in the north, winter swimming is seen as healthy for the body, good for the mind – and more than a little refreshing.”
“Your body temperature drops fast and the body’s defenses go on high alert,” explains Visit North Jutland. “The blood vessels contracts and a cocktail of endorphins and adrenalin rushes through the body. This is the experience most winter swimmers have when they jump in the ocean on a cold winter morning.”
“Winter swimming is not often associated with pleasure, it is very cold! In spite of this, more and more people are jumping into ice-cold sea, and there is a rise in memberships in the local winter swimmers clubs.”
A new old tradition
Not only in Europe but in many countries around the world, intrepid swimmers of all ages are plunging into ice-cold waters to celebrate holidays, to follow national traditions or just for a thrill “that can feel as sharp as daggers” …