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Benefits of Sea Swimming

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A swim in the sea may improve your mood and health. Hippocrates first used the word “thalassotherapy” to describe the healing effects of seawater, according to Pacific Naturopathic. Ancient Greeks appreciated the health and beauty benefits of this mineral-rich water and bathed and soaked in seawater-filled pools and hot tubs. Among several benefits, swimming in seawater can help increase your immune system function, improve circulation, promote overall well-being and hydrate your skin.

Swimming in seawater may help facilitate the circulation of blood in your body. Your circulatory system -- made up of the heart, capillaries, arteries and veins -- carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body, then returns blood to your heart again. The main purpose of thalassotherapy, or seawater therapy, is to increase blood circulation.

Seawater is used by many for overall improved health and well-being. Swimming in warm seawater purportedly activates the body’s healing mechanisms to fight conditions such as asthma, arthritis, bronchitis and inflammatory diseases, as well as common aches and pains. Magnesium-rich seawater purportedly can also relax your muscles, reduce stress and help induce sleep. Magnesium depresses nerves to relieve nervous irritability for an increased sense of calmness, according to wellness pioneer and author J.I. Rondale.

For a number of studies have shown that sea swimming may have benefits for health, from boosting the immune system to easing skin complaints and aches and pains, as well as relieving allergies. Some research even suggests it may boost our sex lives.

People say they feel great after a sea or river swim, which may be because the chilly water activates cold sensors all over our bodies — cells positioned just  0.18  millimetres under our skin — which in turn increase heart rate and give us that “alive” feeling,’ explains Michael Tipton, professor of human and applied physiology at Portsmouth University.

an earlier Czech study found that people who immersed themselves in cold water three times a week experienced a significant increase in their white blood cell count — immune cells important for fighting off infection.

The researchers put this down to cold water acting like a mild stressor, activating the immune system and giving it a workout.

Another, similar study found that cold water immersion may improve our sex lives by increasing the levels of testosterone and oestrogen in men and women respectively. But it is swimming in salty sea water that may be particularly beneficial. A study published in the  International Journal of Dermatology found that magnesium-rich sea water  promotes the retention of moisture in  the skin.

Other research published in the medical journal Skin Research and Technology found that sea water is good for some skin conditions such as psoriasis — it’s thought the salt and potassium chloride found naturally in sea water ‘seals’ the damaged skin and speeds up the healing process.

Meanwhile, the British Association of Dermatologists has found that eczema in children improves when parents introduce sea swimming into their excercise regimen. A study conducted by the organisation into children with eczema caused by allergies found that sea water baths reduced their symptoms.

Sea water may also lessen the symptoms of hay fever such as a runny and itchy nose — the        water acts like a ‘saline douche’, washing the nasal passages clear of the irritating pollens.

People who live by and swim in the sea tend to have healthier respiratory systems, says Maureen Jenkins, director of clinical services with the charity Allergy UK.

‘Sea water is a cleanser, and it mimics  the body’s own fluids in the lining of  the airways, and so doesn’t irritate them,’ she says.  

Not only does this mean it can help wash away irritants, its antiseptic properties mean that wounds are more likely to heal, she adds. There is also the fact that a good sea breeze brings cleaner, pollen-free air in from the sea.

And then there is the circulation-boosting effect. When we immerse ourselves in cold water the blood moves very quickly from our extremities to our major organs, and then back again as we warm up

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