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A recent study led by UCL researchers discovered that women going through menopause can experience notable improvements in both physical and mental symptoms by swimming in cold water daily. Published in Post Reproductive Health, the research surveyed 1114 women, with 785 undergoing menopause, examining the impact of cold water swimming on health and wellbeing.

The findings revealed that menopausal women reported significant enhancements in anxiety (46.9%), mood swings (34.5%), low mood (31.1%), and hot flushes (30.3%) through cold water swimming. A majority of these women (63.3%) engaged in swimming specifically to alleviate their symptoms, with some describing the cold water as "an immediate stress/anxiety reliever" and a "healing" activity.

The study highlighted a 57-year-old woman's testimonial, stating that cold water had saved her life, making her feel like her best self with symptoms disappearing during the activity.

Senior author, Professor Joyce Harper (UCL EGA Institute for Women's Health), said:

"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. 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.”

"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 menopause and encourage more women to take part in sports," he added

Most women swam in both summer and winter, opting for swimming costumes rather than wet suits. Beyond alleviating menopausal symptoms, the women highlighted motivations such as being outdoors, improving mental health, and engaging in exercise.

Professor Harper noted, "Cold water swimming gets people exercising in nature, often with friends, which can build a great community." The researchers also explored whether cold water swimming improved menstrual symptoms in women.

Of the 711 women experiencing menstrual symptoms, almost half reported that cold water swimming improved their anxiety (46.7%), while over a third mentioned benefits for mood swings (37.7%) and irritability (37.6%).

Despite the benefits, the researchers cautioned about potential risks associated with cold water swimming, including hypothermia, cold water shock, cardiac rhythm disturbances, and drowning. Water quality standards were also highlighted, with concerns about raw sewage pollution in UK rivers and seas increasing the risk of infections like gastroenteritis.
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