Has anyone ever noticed how a waterscape backdrop can make fitness so much more appealing?
Whether it’s run by the river, a walk on the beach or a lakeside bike ride, the addition of a glistening panorama can be a huge motivator towards outdoor activity, and it’s also been shown to bring its own distinct wellbeing advantages to the fitness equation.
This phenomenon is known as the ‘Blue Gym’ effect, and it has its roots both in the long recognised restorative properties of nature (both fresh air and 'blue space' specifically), coupled with the more obvious advantages of physical activity.
So what benefits can we expect from taking our workouts waterside this summer?
Among them are feelings of restoration (feeling calm, relaxed, revitalised and refreshed), as well as potentially higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety. This theory is supported by the lower incidence of mental health complaints among surfers, and also among individuals living near the coast. Water temperature may also be one of the mechanisms by which sports such as cold water swimming, for example, can help improve mental health. In this case, it is thought to be the body’s gradual adaptation to the shock and stress response of cold water immersion, that plays a part in wider emotional regulation.
We asked Triathlete Jemima Cooper what is it about cold water swimming that she finds most beneficial: “Learning how to deal with the shock of the cold water, breathing calmly and keeping in control is a skill that can transfer far beyond the weekly OW swim session. Conquer this, and you know you can deal with any other life stresses that come your way!”
Blue Space: The UV Factor
If there is one thing to keep in mind when exercising on or near rivers, lakes or the sea, however, it is that water can add to our overall UV exposure, so it’s even more important to protect your skin when partaking in outdoor water sports.
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