I’ve always called Lake Huron home. The beach is a part of me and my story, yet over the last few years I have found myself swimming in it less and less. As life gets busier, it’s easy to forget about the lake and the healing benefits of swimming in it, but for me there is more to it. I don’t particularly like cold water, and my definition of cold water is anything cooler than a hot tub, and with two toddlers in tow, a day at the beach isn’t always a day at the beach. So you can see how easy it is for me to say no to swimming in the lake. As Alison and I begin to share our thoughts on slow and thoughtful living, I want to look at the benefits of swimming in fresh water, and the Scandinavian take on it, as they are always ahead of the game when it comes to thoughtful living.
It’s easy to Google “health benefits of fresh water swimming” and find article after article on how fresh water swimming helps with sleeping, improves circulation, increases happiness, fires up your metabolism, boosts the immune system, and exfoliates your skin. There are even more benefits when the water is not only fresh but also cold.
This past spring, a group of my friends tried a polar dip, and this got me reading more about cold water swimming. This article by Kathleen Rellihan talks about “ice swimming” and its many benefits.
“For winter swimming instructor Päivi Pälvimäki, taking to Finland’s natural ice-cold waters is both more enjoyable and healing than an indoor swim. Like Markkanen, Pälvimäki says it helps make the winter more bearable. After an icy swim, Pälvimäki feels invigorated and happy. She has more energy and sleeps better, too. “
I love how Scandinavian countries seem to embrace all four seasons, something we want to dig into in this journal. Seasons have almost become a thing of the past with access to whatever food we want whenever we want, clothes designed for fashion instead of function and more accessible travel. I notice this most when I head to the grocery store in January and find fruits and vegetables from all over the world reminding me of how disconnected we are from the realities of farming and food production. Alison and I want to be more thoughtful about how we embrace the seasons in all aspects of our life.
Back to swimming. I truly believe that with knowledge comes more understanding, and in turn it inspires us to make little changes for the better. I’m trying really hard to think about my daily routines, and to make sure I’m not just taking the easy way out. When I look at the benefits of swimming in our beautiful lake, they far out weight the frigid temperatures and additional work needed to get there. We’ve been told fast and convenient is best, but it often means it’s not slow or thoughtful.
So put that swimsuit on and dive in.