5 FOR 5: 5 Benefits of taking a Winter Swim and 5 places to take the plunge in West Cork.
It may be cold outside but that’s no excuse to stay indoors. There are plenty of health benefits to go for a winter walk or swim for that matter. And where else is as majestic to go for a Winter walk or dip? None other than West Cork.
The benefits of swimming in Winter are extensive? Believe it or not, Swimming in the Winter:
- Boosts your immune system: For your body, a sudden and drastic change in temperature constitutes an attack – a good one however. Swimming in cold water for one hour, three times a week can have profound increases in white blood cell counts. This was attributed to the cold water being a mild stressor which activates the immune system and rouses it for action.
- For an all-natural high: Winter swimmers often experience a feeling of wellbeing that’s so encompassing that it becomes quite addictive. The cause? Endorphins. Cold also stimulates your parasympathetic system, which is responsible for rest and repair, and this can trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are a vital part of keeping us happy.
- Burns calories: We all know that swimming is great exercise but there are some extra benefits from doing it in cold, cold, cold winter waters that you just won’t get during the summer months. Swimming in cold water will make your body work twice as hard to keep you warm and burn more calories in the process.
- Gets your blood pumping: Being hot brings blood to surface. Being cold sends it to your organs. Both extremes work your heart like a pump. The increased blood flow is extremely good for you as it helps flush your circulation for starters, pushing blood through all your capillaries, veins and arteries. Evidence also demonstrates that your body adapts to the cold with repeated exposure and this may improve your circulation, particularly to your extremities – no bad thing in the winter months.
- Improves your libido: immersing yourself in cold water enhances the production of testosterone and oestrogen in men and women respectively. In addition to enhancing libido in both sexes, these hormones also play an important role in fertility.
So if we haven’t convinced you to take a dip this Winter, the beaches of West Cork are still an excellent opportunity to take a walk, go sight-seeing, take some photography or just bask in the stunning scenery our locality has to offer:
- Inchydoney Beach: This vast, sandy beach, on Inchydoney Island, a short drive from Clonakilty, is one of the most beautiful to be found along this stretch of the coastline. The pale, unspoiled sand is backed by dunes and gentle rolling countryside. This dog friendly beach has two separate sections, divided by the rocky Virgin Mary Headland. The swell here can be excellent and there are good opportunities for surfing also
- Warren Strand is a small sandy rural beach backed by dunes and situated at the mouth of the Roscarbery River. At the southern end of the beach is a harbour wall which protects the entrance to the rivermouth. The area around the beach has been designated as a Natural Heritage Area and wildlife abounds.
- Owenahincha is an extensive sandy beach which for much of its length is backed by dunes. This area is a popular holiday destination with lots of camping and caravan sites in the vicinity – some of which are open all year round. Owenahincha Beach is a good surf spot and there is a surf school nearby. It is also frequented by kite surfers.
- The tiny village of Tragumna is found about 5km from Skibereen, along the County Cork coastline. The small, attractive beach here is mainly sandy, flanked by rocks and cliffs which offer some shelter from the prevailing winds . A small island can be seen about 100 metres from the shoreline.
- Barleycove Beach, West Cork is a large sandy beach backed by sand dunes. The sand dunes were thrown up in the tidal wave that swept Europe after the earthquake in Lisbon in 1755. Today they have been partially eroded but they are protected like much of the coast round this area as European designated Special Areas of Conservation. The road goes to the east of the beach across a causeway bisecting Lissagriffin Lakes and at the T-junction you turn left to stunning Mizen Head.
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