Connecting with Nature – Wild Swimming & Mental Health

The past year has inspired lots of people to take up a new outdoor activity and it seems that wild swimming is all the rage with more and more people taking to the water on a regular basis.

Wild swimming is essentially swimming outdoors in natural spaces, such as rivers, lakes or the sea.

There is a growing amount of evidence to suggest that cold water swimming can help to improve mental wellbeing.

  • Immersing the body in cold water boosts dopamine levels and increases the release of endorphins.
  • Being outdoors and #ConnectingWithNature has a proven, positive impact on mental wellbeing.
  • The wild swimming community is a friendly bunch and very welcoming and encouraging! By joining a local group or beginning to swim with people you already know, we can build on new and existing friendships. 
  • Keeping fit and healthy can have a huge positive impact on both our physical and mental health. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and can help lower blood pressure, increase immunity and is considered a low-impact exercise making it more joint friendly.
  • Overcoming the resistance to entering cold water can help us to build mental resilience. Over time this helps us to become more confident and boost self esteem.

We have spoken to some wild swimming fans in Action Mental Health and they tell us that it really helps their mental health and wellbeing.


If you embark on any new physical activity, we recommend you first check with your GP to make sure it is safe.

Before starting a wild swim, it is crucial to undertake a risk assessment. Never swim alone and always swim within your limits. The risks increase considerably during the winter, when there is more swell and the water and air temperature is colder. However, the risks are present all year round.

Join the Northern Ireland Open Water Swimming Facebook Page or find out more on the Discover Northern Ireland Website!

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