In at the Deep End: Wild Swimming

Swimming is a full body workout with numerous health benefits. Open or wild water swimming, in the colder water of natural lakes, rivers and lidos, could be even better for your heart.

Wild swimming, otherwise known as open water swimming, is an age-old tradition. Immersing yourself in cold, open waters can have a wide range of health benefits – there's evidence to suggest it could improve your mood, circulatory system and brain. It may even lower your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes1. Wild swimming is currently experiencing a revival in the UK, as more people look for budget-friendly, health-boosting ways to relax outdoors.

If you were to ask someone how they feel after a wild swim, they'll generally report feeling happier, more alert and mentally calm2. All forms of swimming, whether outdoors or indoors, are an excellent source of exercise. You're working out your muscles as you push through the water, moving your joints around and increasing your breathing; it's a fun, full-body workout that anyone can take part in. Swimming might just be the ideal exercise for heart health3. Some people say they feel twenty years younger since taking up the hobby and there's scientific reasoning behind this.

Many of the health benefits associated with swimming are caused by endorphins - these are a special type of hormone that our bodies release when we're stressed or in pain. They act as natural painkillers, putting a temporary stop to any physical discomfort we might be feeling. When we take a dip in cold water, the endorphins released by the body have another role – making us feel focused, alert and generally happier. These feel-good hormones also help to protect your heart; they lower blood pressure, which could reduce your risk of heart disease4. Swimming regularly will give you an endorphin-fuelled boost and can help you to sleep deeper at night, while also reduce anxiety and depression3.

There are more risks to wild swimming than typical pool swimming. The water will be cold, especially in the winter months. Never go wild swimming alone and if you have an underlying heart condition, check with your doctor before taking the plunge. The social aspects of swimming with other people can be especially good for you. One study found that older men and women who swim together reported feeling intellectually stimulated and more purposeful – they state that swimming together can build strong friendships, promote healthy-ageing and create better lifestyle habits2.

Water can look calm and slow-moving from the surface, but many rivers have strong currents running underneath them. There are wild swimming groups up and down the country, from the freezing lochs of the Scottish Highlands to the warmer waters of southern England – ask for their advice when choosing a location to swim in. Skinny dipping (swimming in the nude) is the traditional way to wild swim, but swimwear can be worn – it's your choice5.

Indoor pools typically are usually treated with chlorine or other chemicals to kill nasty germs and prevent them from causing us harm. Rivers, lakes and other wild swimming spots are untreated and can contain dangerous pathogens, so always cover up any open cuts with waterproof plasters and wear shoes to protect your feet. Avoid swimming near algae and don't swim too far from the edge, in case you need to get out quickly5.

Keeping physically active is only one part of staying healthy. A healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is just as important. Kwai Heartcare+ with Japanese Black Garlic is a daily supplement, specifically formulated to support normal heart function. Each tablet contains 450mg of Black Garlic, 2,700μg of Allicin and Vitamin B1. Its unique formulation helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and resist temporary oxidative stress.