Ineighth grade, I accidentally bumped against a low-voltage cattle fence while pounding a posthole into t

Author : greensameblue
Publish Date : 2021-01-09 16:17:09


Ineighth grade, I accidentally bumped against a low-voltage cattle fence while pounding a posthole into t

Ineighth grade, I accidentally bumped against a low-voltage cattle fence while pounding a posthole into the mud with an iron rod. It wasn’t until I began swimming in the bracingly cool waters of the Atlantic this autumn that I felt a similar electric jolt. My initial plunge sent a scream through my torso and limbs, down through the tips of my fingers and toes. It was a stinging, full-bodied smack—but then a pleasant numbness. I swam along the shore for a full 20 minutes. When I came out, I felt more alive than I have through most of the pandemic.

I was hooked. And, judging from the handful of triathletes and eastern European stalwarts I spotted in the waves along with me, I wasn’t alone. When I recently returned to my swimming spot on Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach — six weeks, five swims, one wetsuit, and a water temperature drop of eight degrees Fahrenheit later — a string-bikini-wearing grandmother beat me into the water.

In a stroke of pandemic restlessness, I’d unwittingly opened the door to a hobby with a devoted, year-round following — and centuries of health hype.


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People have bathed in cold water for fun and fitness since antiquity. But according to some sources, “wild swimming” has seen a recent upswing in popularity. It’s an especially popular activity across northern and eastern Europe and throughout the U.K., where members of open-water swimming clubs descend on their local oceans, lakes, and ponds well after the lifeguards and sun revelers have hung up their Speedos for the season.

The Surprising Benefits of Exercising in Cold Weather
As long as you take precautions, you don’t need to hibernate in the gym this winter
elemental.medium.com
These swimmers aren’t just endurance bros and Baltic babushkas, either. The Instagram page for a virtual, millennial-friendly, all-season swimming club called The Outdoor Swimming Society boasts 43,000 followers, many of whom post swim selfies with hashtags that nod at a holistic health bent: #ColdWaterTherapy and #MentalHealthSwims. Nontrivial bragging rights and excellent Insta fodder aside, cold-swimming proponents tend to be vocal about the purported physical and mental health benefits of their hobby. That cornucopia of alleged perks includes, among other things, improved circulation, heightened immune function, a lessening of depression and anxiety symptoms, and even a longer lifespan.

The rationale behind each claim might vary depending on whom you ask. One common thread is the exhilaration that follows the pain.

“When you step into cold water — feet, ankles, legs — you don’t start to feel sorry for yourself until you get to your waist,” writes essayist Sarah Miller in a blog post on Medium. “There’s a brief moment of tender sorrow for the position you’ve put yourself in.”

“But,” Miller continues, “after about five minutes, it’s kind of fine, only semi-awful. Then, it’s amazing.” Miller tries to swim every day.

It turns out that, physiologically, the “awful” and the “amazing” are part of the same process. Cold-water shock triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, spiking blood pressure levels and flooding the body with cortisol — the hormone that’s also released during periods of anxiety and emotional stress. Essentially, this is the body’s way of priming itself for a life-saving escape.
 



Category : general

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