Archive for January 15th, 2010


#15 recipe for energizing yourself in winter

Tonight I started my winter swimming season. I should have started back in November, but at the time there was no snow or ice, and the water in the sea was so horribly brown that it didn’t invite me at all.

I really feel it cleared my head after a hectic week. Other people must have the same routine for unwinding for the weekend, since the sauna was absolutely packed. There is a winter swimmers’ club who owns the big sauna by the sea, and takes care of the pump in the water that keeps the water around the jetty open all winter, despite the thick elsewhere.

We only wear ordinary swimsuits, but I find neoprene shoes indispensable. When it’s really cold it’s good to wear a woolly hat, since it’s through your head that you lose most of your body heat. You are never to put your head under water in winter.

I usually go to the sea 3-4 times in between getting warm and sweating in the sauna. Tonight the outside temperature was around minus 3, and inside the sauna plus 70. It sure is quite a difference, but it makes your skin tingle wonderfully. I wouldn’t actually call it winter swimming as such, since all I do is either dip quickly, or swim some 3 meters at the most. Some people manage to stay in the water a little bit longer.

We Finns are not crazy to do this! This activity has a lot of health benefits. It stimulates your blood circulation, enabling you to bear cold weather better. If you do it regularly (2-3 times a weeks), it also effectively builds resistance and prevents colds. For me, the most important benefit, though, is that it boost my moods in the dark season. I have read that regular winter swimming builds a layer of grey fat under your skin, just like what seals have, and this grey fat is much better for your health than ordinary body fat.

No wonder, winter swimming is getting more and more popular in Finland, especially amongst middle-aged or older people, who suffer from SAD the most. But you do see some young people there, too. For example, tonight I met an ex-student, who is only in his early 20s, and who started this as part of his training for the wrestling championships.

I feel refreshed and totally relaxed now, and will sleep like a log tonight. What luxury that I won’t even have to set the alarm, as it’s Saturday tomorrow.


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