Swimming for Health 

Cold Water Immersion: Swimming or Cold Showers 

Swimming itself is a brilliant way to get physically active, but it can also be a great way to support mental wellbeing.  In the New Forest we are lucky to have a number of swimming pools at the local sports centres, Lymington sea water baths and of course, the sea - which is free of charge!

In particular, it is thought that cold water can reduce your response to stress.  As well as improving your sense of wellbeing, there is growing research into the effects of cold water immersion in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, panic, menopause and the risk of dementia.


  1. We adapt to the stress of cold water.  After a few times, you get better at adapting to that stress.  This can help you manage other stressors in your life.
  2. Immersing in cold water and especially your face creates an anti-inflammatory response.

Some people might choose to have a cold shower in the morning.  Others may find that getting into nature and the thrill of open water swimming has added benefits. If you are new to open water swimming, do not go alone.  There are groups of people that enjoy swimming along the New Forest's coast line, or make sure you go with a friend.  Check out the Lake District Top Safety Tips Video Below.


Sea Swimming:

  1. It can be just about the dipping if you want (just getting in), or the swimming part as well
  2. Community, not competition
  3. Supportive and inclusive

I want to hear more about open water swimming and how it has impacted or helped others.

Check out these videos and links below!

I want to see how sea swimming could improve my mental wellbeing? 

There are a number of groups of sea swimmers who are very welcoming, often found via social media, and there are some introduction to cold water therapy sessions available at cheaper rates if you are referred by the social prescribing team.  

Cold Water Therapy Intro At LYMINGTON SEA WATER BATHS 


- Improved mood

- Increased wellbeing 

- Improved physical health 

- Reconnection to nature 

Tonic of the Sea: "I was desperate to find my way back to me... depression, the anxiety, all of it... the panic, the sleep loss, it took away my confidence in life.  And the sea brought it back..."

Lake District swimming coach shares TOP SAFETY TIPS discovering the joys of open water swimming in lockdown 

Sea swimming is 'amazing' for mental health and menopause.  "The anxiety that the menopause has been really bad for me... a real feeling of dread...The emersion of your body in cold salt water.... feels amazing"

I Swim - Short Wild Swimming Film

"Wild swimming is a break.  It demands so much of your attention, you haven't got room to think about the trivial stuff you were thinking about previously... It's a pause from the madness everyone has in their lives"

The healing madness of sea swimming by Dr Mark Harper, Consultant Anaesthetist

BBC news: Could a dip in cold water protect against dementia?

There is no better way to start the day than an early morning swim!

Updated by Dr Nichola

Osborne April 2023