Back to the Blog page

Exercise outside the box: Wild swimming

September 24, 2020
Lucy Hussey

Jumping into freezing cold water isn’t something on most people’s to do list first thing in the morning, but increasing numbers of us are discovering the mental and physical benefits of wild swimming – especially after swimming pools were closed during lockdown for COVID-19. At Lime, we are always interested in trying new things, especially when there are potential health benefits, so Lime’s Lucy Hussey discovered the draw of wild swimming for herself.

Swimming in the sea, lakes or rivers isn’t exactly new but a growing number of enthusiasts swear by the benefits of doing it regularly, no matter how cold the water might be. They cite the beauty of nature, the thrill of being out in a wild environment and there’s something else – swimming in cold water seems to have a direct impact on mental health. In fact, a case report published in the British Medical Journal Case Reports shows that it may even be an effective treatment for depression.

How could this be? Well, research is ongoing but there are two theories; one is that cold water is a stress on the body and as your body adapts to repeated exposure to cold water, so your response to all kinds of stress reduces. Current research suggests that just six three-minute swims can have an effect on your cold shock response. Another theory, is that cold water is an anti-inflammatory, so repeated exposure over time will reduce levels of inflammation, which is associated with stress, therefore improving both mental and physical health.  The exact mechanics of how this works are still being researched, but it definitely sounds like it’s worth giving a go.

My own open water swim attempt was at the coast in Dorset over the summer. The best time to start swimming outside is in late summer or early autumn when water temperatures are at their highest. I took the plunge into the sea four times in a week and was absolutely blown away by how fantastic I felt after each swim. I’ve swum or bodyboarded in the sea many times, and usually I would have said I prefer the warmth of the Mediterranean or even a tropical ocean, but there was something incredibly invigorating about being in the cold water of the English Channel. Plus, the coastline is beautiful and getting out into nature really is balm for the soul. I’m definitely hooked. Sadly, I don’t live anywhere near the sea so I’m investigating other wild swimming options closer to home. Next stop, the river Thames. Wish me luck!

Warning: You do need to be careful. Swimming out in nature, particularly in cold water, has many potential dangers, so before trying it for the first time do your research and consider your own current health status. The Outdoor Swimming Society has a great overview of all the safety information that you need to consider before taking your first dip and you should also speak to your doctor if you have any existing medical conditions.

Welcome to Lime. We’re a straight-talking, no faff, brand new approach to health cover that won’t break the bank! Our products start from as little as just over £2 per month!

Lime was designed to bring bite-size, flexible, inexpensive health cover to the many. The idea is to top-up, not duplicate, the care you get from the NHS, just where you need to. We focus on what people really need, not a big package of expensive benefits that are rarely used. We are exclusively online, which helps keep things simple and avoids costs like branches and call centres. You can only buy direct, so no salespeople or middlemen to deal with (or pay for).

Interested in our Cancer Essentials cover?

Find out more & get a free quote

Interested in our Rapid Diagnostics cover?

Find out more & get a free quote

Interested in Mind-Matters?

Find out more about our mental health support service combining both emotional and practical support. From just £3 per month
Learn more

Other news pieces

Avoiding the ‘Wellbeing eyeroll’; three ways to ensure investment in workforce wellbeing has real impact.

Read more
Community & Health

Why wellbeing is a better motivator than money

Read more
Community & Health

NHS in crisis - how can employers help?

Read more
An image of 5 people with their hands together

Be the first to know when we launch new products

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Lime logo white
Lime International Limited and Lime International Health Limited are part of a group of companies of which the ultimate parent company is Lime Global Limited.

Lime International Limited, Lime International Health Limited and Lime Global Limited are registered in England and Wales. Company numbers 10180963, 12473029 and 09666467 respectively. Registered office: Level 30, Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street,London, EC3V 4AB

Lime International Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registration number 759122. Further details can be found on the Financial Services Register at

© 2023 Lime Global – All Rights Reserved.  Visit Lime Global.