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Cold Water Swimming May Help Improve Symptoms Of Menopause

2 weeks, 6 days ago

2569  0
Posted on Apr 30, 2024, 6 p.m.

Women who regularly swim in cold water report experiencing significant improvements to both their physical and mental menopause symptoms, according to research recently published in Post Reproductive Health that was led by researchers from the University College London (UCL). 

This study involved 1114 women, 785 of whom were experiencing symptoms of menopause to examine the effects of cold water swimming on their health and well-being. The findings show that 46.9% of the menopausal women experienced significant improvements in anxiety, 34.5% experienced improvements in mood swings, 31.1% had improvements with low moods, and 30.3 had improvements with hot flashes as a result of participating in cold water swimming. 

Additionally, 63.3% of the women were swimming specifically to relieve their symptoms. Some of the women were quoted as saying that cold water swimming had "an immediate stress/ anxiety reliever" and they described the activity as "healing." One woman stated that "Cold water is phenomenal. It has saved my life. In the water, I can do anything. All symptoms (physical and mental) disappear and I feel like me at my best."

"Cold water has previously been found to improve mood and reduce stress in outdoor swimmers, and ice baths have long been used to aid athletes' muscle repair and recovery,” said Senior author, Professor Joyce Harper (UCL EGA Institute for Women's Health)."Our study supports these claims, meanwhile the anecdotal evidence also highlights how the activity can be used by women to alleviate physical symptoms, such as hot flushes, aches and pains.”

The study also investigated the effects of cold water swimming on the symptoms of PMS and menstrual systems. The findings show that among the 711 women experiencing menstrual symptoms, 46.7% experienced improvements in anxiety, 37.7% experienced improvements in mood swings, and 37.6% experienced improvements in irritability. 

"More research still needs to be done into the frequency, duration, temperature and exposure needed to elicit a reduction in symptoms. However, we hope our findings may provide an alternative solution for women struggling with the menopause and encourage more women to take part in sports."

Along with helping to relieve their symptoms of menopause, the women said that their main motivation for cold water swimming was to spend time outside, improve their mental health, and get more exercise. Most of the women were likely to swim in both summer and winter, and they preferred to wear swimming costumes rather than wetsuits. 

"The majority of women swim to relieve symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings and hot flushes. They felt that their symptoms were helped by the physical and mental effects of the cold water, which was more pronounced when it was colder,” said Harper. "How often they swam, how long for and what they wore were also important. Those that swam for longer had more pronounced effects. The great thing about cold water swimming is it gets people exercising in nature, and often with friends, which can build a great community."

"Caution must be taken when cold water swimming, as participants could put themselves at risk of hypothermia, cold water shock, cardiac rhythm disturbances or even drowning,” explained Harper. "Depending on where they are swimming, water quality standards may also vary. Raw sewage pollution is an increasingly common concern in UK rivers and seas. And, sadly, this can increase the likelihood of gastroenteritis and other infections."

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Content may be edited for style and length.

References/Sources/Materials provided by:

p.tombs@ucl.ac.uk

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2024/jan/cold-water-swimming-improves-menopause-symptoms

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/20533691241227100



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