Sauna Q&A / Jan Seepter

The benefits of cold water swimming combined with sauna

04 Jun 2021

Cold water swimming or winter swimming is a training that strengthens the resilience and protection systems of your body and similarly to the sauna, and its sudden changes in temperature, the flood of helping hormones brings along an intense feeling of well-being. 

At the same time, it is important to pay attention to the fact that cold water swimming brings along an extreme sense of excitement that causes the blood vessels in the skin to rapidly close and your heart to begin working harder, and as your muscles receive less blood flow and oxygen you are facing the danger of muscles cramps. In most cases, especially in case of insufficient preparation, shortness of breath might also occur.

Therefore, winter swimming and sauna can be seen as two members of the same family, but the general adaption reactions in case of winter swimming are substantially greater than with the sauna’s cold-hot experience, and require previous physical as well as mental preparation.  

Only the thought of taking a cold dip into the icy water, not to mention swimming, is too much to take for most of us. Going to the sauna can be a wonderful springboard to any beginner cold water swimmer – you can always warm yourself up in the sauna. In addition to the sense of security, sauna also allows your muscles to adapt to the shock of cold without being scared of muscle cramps.

The main advantages of the cold water swimmer’s sauna experience was summarised by my good friend Andrei Kulagin, who is one of the leaders of the winter swimming culture in Tartu (the second biggest city in Estonia): “Swimming in the cold water gives you a great sense of pleasure. But if you also wish to spend quality time with similar people and speak about the matters of the world, then sauna is the perfect place to do that. Otherwise, you wouldn’t, would you?”

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