How to boost your winter health / Winter Bathing
How does jumping in the Baltic Sea on purpose after dark in late November sound?
It was all that, and more!
My husband and I, along with friends who brought us to the bathing house, did exactly that in Denmark recently.
They called it “Winter Bathing.”
Here is an old photo of the bathhouse in the summer, when people normally go swimming.
The center part with the divider is where we took our plunge.
I said to our hostess, “Darn, I didn’t bring my swimsuit.” Bolette replied, “No problem, we don’t wear them!”
Turns out, the divider in the winter is used to separate the men and the women, hence the “no problem” without a suit. 😉
There is a distinct formula for your bath:
1. Walk down these stairs and jump in the water first. (My husband thought it would be much nicer to sauna first, and then jump in, but that was not the prescribed regimen.)
2. Zip into the yellow room in the center of the photo below for a 10 minute sauna.
Jump or walk down the stairs back into the sea, swim around if you can, and then back into the sauna for ten minutes. Be sure and watch out for these orange blobs in the water:
There were lights shining down into the water so you could see them, but they move fast and seemed to move towards movement in the water (created by people splashing around~)so I didn’t get to actually swim. One woman not with our group had been stung, and was scraping her leg with a card to decrease the sting.
4. Finish up with a dip in the sea, and then it’s time to shower off the salty water, and away you go!
I have blogged before about the great effects of cold water showering for recovery: http://justmuscles.net/muscle-soreness/get-rid-muscle-soreness/sauna
And here: Sauna and the benefits of working out outside – http://justmuscles.net/fitness/is-it-betterto-workout-outdoors-or-indoors/
So this winter bathing concept won’t be new to Just Muscles loyal readers.
However, more research points out even more benefits that I wasn’t aware of:
“It is only in the last few years, though, that scientists and doctors have really begun to investigate why it is that cold water makes us feel so incredibly well. On a cosmetic level, cold water tightens the pores and flattens hair follicles — hence the long-held hairdressers’ mantra of a final rinse with cold water for optimal shininess. Cold water also promotes lymphatic drainage, leading to improved circulation, and helps stimulate brown fat which can result in weight loss.
A 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that a cold shower a day could make you lose up to nine pounds a year. Given that this costs next to nothing, how long before it’s available on the NHS as an obesity cure?
Much more extraordinary is the effect of cold water immersion on mental health. In the mid-1990s, doctors in Germany discovered that swimming in cold water reduced levels of uric acid and resulted in a ‘hardening’ of the body, meaning that patients were better able to cope with stress in the long-term. Sitting in cold water also decreases the heart rate by nearly 10 per cent, lowering blood pressure and inducing calm, according to a 2002 study.”
So given the opportunity to take a “Winter Bath” or join your local Polar Bears Club, I say, GO FOR IT!