Immerse yourself in nature- try open water swimming
At Purely, we are on a mission to give the world a tasty, plant-based snack that looks after your health as well as the planet. And we love hearing about how people spend their time, shall we say immersed in nature, doing things that make them feel better too.
For many, choosing plantain that has been sustainably sourced and harvested as a planet-friendly alternative to the potato chip is a lifestyle choice as much as a diet one.
We love highlighting the way that spending time, enjoying nature, making lifestyle choices that will also support long term health.
Our team member Rosie often dons her dryrobe and heads to the local lake for a dip. She loves to take time to decompress and wild swimming allows her to do this.
Benefits of cold water swimming.
Being an island, there are so many places to enjoy our coastline and cold water swimming opportunities at the coast and inland.
The benefits from cold-water immersion don’t just provide relief from the dramas of your hectic everyday life, but the long-term effects on the body have been scientifically proven for many years.
Say’s Rosie “I’ve swam in a lake near me for as long as I can remember. I have never been interested in using it to train for an event but mainly for pleasure and without the pressure of a competition. I swim outdoors at least once a week and now we’re heading into winter, my aim is to keep going for as long as possible with the hope that I will acclimatise to the cold water.”
“The motivation for getting into the water is the feeling of euphoria that I get after I’ve been swimming. I get a huge feeling of achievement that makes me feel proud of myself for going outside of my comfort zone, but ultimately the trials and tribulations of my day seem to dissipate when I’m in the water and being part of the local environment in a completely immersive way!”
Submerging yourself in cold water may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there are a number of physical and mental benefits to doing this on a regular basis.
An Increased Tolerance to Stress
Submerging your body in cold water creates a stress reaction that leads to the release of the stress hormone cortisol and an increase in heart rate and breathing frequency. This diminishes as your body adjusts to the temperature.
There is now evidence to suggest that repeatedly subjecting your body to cold water immersion will gradually reduce the severity of this initial stress reaction, which in turn will enable you to cope better in other stressful situations as your reaction is also reduced.
The stress reaction caused by cold water immersion is also suspected to trigger an increase in white blood cell production, providing a natural boost to your immune system.
A Self-Esteem Boost
Getting out of your comfort zone builds confidence and courage as well as giving you a sense of accomplishment. By becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable you increase your resilience in other areas of life.
Coldwater Swimming improves Mindfulness
Your brain has limited bandwidth and with the intense sensory stimulation caused by cold water swimming, there is no space left for your brain to go over your to-do list or worry about anything other than the cold environment it finds itself in.
Much like mindfulness exercises, this forces you as the swimmer to focus on the present and take a break from the brain-churn caused by daily dramas.
Ice baths are now a common post-game practice used to aid recovery for sports people. Your body’s reaction to cold temperatures is to direct blood away from your extremities to protect your core organs. The resulting lower blood flow to your limbs decreases inflammation and allows muscles to recover more quickly.
Swimming in open water - especially sea water – can be beneficial for your skin. Sea water is full of salt, which helps to remove damaged and dry skin but also acts as a mild antiseptic, encouraging cuts to heal. And it contains magnesium, calcium and potassium which are all good for the skin.
Post Swim High
This is a thing and not just according to Rosie. The mix of exercise and cold water exposure triggers a release of dopamine, the body's feel good hormone so as well as the satisfaction of getting out there, your body will agree!
The water may be chilly but there are plenty of reasons why pushing through your resistance and persisting with cold water swimming is a great thing to
Lake, River or Sea Swims
Unless you are enjoying the effects of a wave machine, the water in a swimming pool is generally flat, doesn’t move significantly, and provides conditions that are generally safely controlled.
But when you are in more open water environments, the water can move faster than anyone can swim. In order to stay safe, it’s important to know what’s happening within and under any body of water you want to swim in.
Take rivers first. It is often obvious if the water is flowing fast but it can still be difficult to gauge exactly how fast and what the implications are for swimming.
Lake water is generally flatter and more still. The water flows in lakes are generally benign, but still look out for in-flowing rivers and outflows.
The sea however is a totally different packet of chips, and must always be treated with the utmost respect. As well as lateral movement along the shore the sea can also mask rip currents that can pull you away from shore. Around the UK, we have massive tidal ranges which means that somewhere with easy access to the water can be submerged or out of reach a few hours later.
Tow Float or No Float?
Introduced to the UK in around 2012m the Tow Float has two main purposes; to help visibility of the swimmer in the water and as a carrying device for personal belongings. Some say they feel safer when using them, others feel they give an unwarranted sense of safety that masks a greater level of danger inherent to a swim or location.
How to stay safe when open water swimming
Whether you are an open water beginner or a seasoned dipper, there are a few things you should always do to ensure the safety of your open water swim.
According to the RNLI here are some of the ways you can stay safe and make the most of your time in any body of open water.
Shout before you go out!
If it is your first time in the open water, it may be a good idea to consult a health professional, but definitely tell someone where and when you are swimming and if possible, get a friend to go with you! It’s always much more fun and you can look out for each other.
Choose your spot
If possible, choose a location that is lifeguarded and swim within the designated areas. If there aren’t lifeguards around, make sure you know where you can enter and exit the water safely and what other hazards you need to be aware of-above and below the surface.
It is also a very good idea Read up on the currents and tide times and if you are in a tidal area, how to spot a rip current and what to do if you are caught in one.
All the gear, no idea
Wearing a wetsuit isn’t compulsory but the water temperature will be a lot less than a swimming pool so be prepared.A wetsuit can aid buoyancy and a brightly coloured suit can help you get spotted in poor or lowlight conditions.
Similarly wearing a brightly coloured swimming hat and a tow float will help you to be seen in and a tow float can act as extra buoyancy if you need it.
Always take a means of calling for help with you, such as a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch and a whistle to attract attention.
Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes and a warm drink for after your swim. It is important to warm yourself up carefully.
Know your limits
Depending on the conditions, you may need to spend less time in the water or swim closer to the bank or shore. The temperature of the air and water is also important – the colder the water and air temperature, the quicker you will cool down. So the colder it is, the less time you should spend in the water.
If you fancy swapping the relative calm of the laned off rectangle for lakes, lynns and lochs of the UK, there are lots of places you can start open water swimming
Once you are done, make sure you have warm clothes nearby, that are dry!
Also try some of our deliciously spicy Nice and Spicy chips to warm you up from the inside too