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.
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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.
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
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
‘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
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