The Cardiovascular Benefits of Open Water Swimming
Open water swimming is not just an immersive experience, it's also a boon for your cardiovascular health. Stepping away from the confines of the chlorinated pools and into the nature of wild swimming, you're doing more than just breaking the monotony; you're engaging your heart in one of the most beneficial exercises.
Why Open Water Swimming is a Heart's Best Friend
Here's the heart of the matter – swimming in open water offers several unique benefits for cardiovascular well-being:
- Aerobic exercise with a twist: While all forms of swimming are excellent aerobic workouts, open water swimming adds variety and challenge, which keeps your heart engaged differently with each swim due to varying conditions.
- Natural blood pressure regulation: The pressure of the water naturally puts a mild squeeze on your limbs, promoting better circulation and potentially helping to lower blood pressure.
- Reduced heart disease risk: Regular aerobic exercise, like swimming, is known to decrease the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation.
- Improved circulatory system: Swimming requires the heart to pump blood not just to the extremities but also against gravity, which can improve overall circulatory system functionality.
- Stress relief: The soothing properties of water and the meditative strokes can help alleviate stress and anxiety, leading to a healthier heart.
How to Start Open Water Swimming
Before you start, it's important to recognise that open water swimming presents different challenges than pool swimming. Here's how to start safely:
1. Health first: Consult with your healthcare provider to ensure you are ready to take on this form of exercise, especially if you've had heart health concerns.
2. Build your skills: If you're new to swimming it is a good idea to take open water swimming lessons to become comfortable in the water.
3. Equip yourself: Acquire the right outdoor swimming gear - a good wetsuit for buoyancy and warmth, goggles for clear vision, and a brightly coloured tow float/dry bag and swim cap for visibility and safety.
4. Location matters: Seek out safe, recommended spots that are known for open water swimming. These areas are likely to have calmer waters and possibly even lifeguard supervision.
5. Start Small: Begin with shorter distances and gradually build up as you become more comfortable with the conditions. Always be aware of your limits. - Take a look at our blog "Tips on How to Acclimatise When Open Water Swimming".
6. Never Swim Alone: Have a swim partner for safety reasons, or join a local open water swim group. There's safety in numbers, and it's more fun! - Click here to find out how you can do this.
7. Warm-Up to Cold Water: If swimming in colder water, take the time to acclimatise to prevent after-drop, and understand the signs of hypothermia.
Committing to the Swim
Starting an open water swimming routine need not be an upstream battle. Here's a streamlined approach to commit to the waves:
- Consistency is Key: Aim to swim regularly, setting a schedule that aligns with your lifestyle and sticking to it.
- Set Achievable Goals: Whether it's distance, frequency, or simply getting into the water regularly, having clear, reachable goals can help keep you motivated.
- Track Your Progress: It's a good idea to log your swims, noting how you feel during and after each session. This can help you see the improvements over time, not just in distance but in holistic well-being.
Charting Your Open Water Journey
As with any venture into the natural world, it's crucial to respect the environment and understand that conditions can change swiftly. Always check weather and water conditions before setting out, stay aware of your surroundings, and respect local wildlife.