Benefits of Swimming in Cold vs. Hot Water

March 26, 2021

Whether you prefer Polar Bear plunge-esque temps or a steamier swim, being in water offers a multitude of mind-body benefits.

For one, it offers a release from gravity that can’t be found elsewhere. This puts the “low” in low-impact and creates a sense of freedom and buoyancy that’s excellent for stress relief. Plus, it’s a way to get in some cardio without all the sweat. 

While swimming is great for your health in general, different water temperatures also provide unique benefits of their own. Read on to learn how! 


Perks For Cold Water Lovers

You likely already know that cold water is a major energy booster but its health benefits extend beyond that caffeine-like jolt. 

Contrary to popular belief, swimming in water cooler than your body temperature won’t get you sick. In fact, it actually stimulates your immune system. One reason is that it boosts your white blood cell count, which helps fight off infections to keep you healthy. It’s also been shown to make the protective benefits of your white blood cells last longer.

Because swimming in cold water forces your body to work twice as hard, it’s a surefire way to torch calories. It also improves your circulation. From your immune system to your heart, healthy blood and oxygen flow is essential to good health. It enables your organs to function at their best, most efficient level — and of course, keeps your skin radiant.

Finally, swimming in cold water releases feel-good endorphins to boost your mood. Less stress=lower levels of inflammation in the body. In turn, this may lower your risk of chronic disease. Studies even show that cold water immersion can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. 


The Warm Water Effect

Not a fan of the cold? Not to worry — warmer water comes with its own fair share of health perks. 

The most obvious benefit is a deep sense of relaxation. Higher temps relax your muscles and joints, and this effect also trickles into your mind and emotions as well. For those with arthritis, heat is especially beneficial for reducing joint and muscle pain. Chronic pain sufferers or those recovering from an injury will also benefit from the therapeutic effects.

Because warm water causes your blood vessels to dilate, it improves your circulation. More blood flow means your cells are able to regenerate, promoting a quicker healing effect. Your heart is also forced to work harder, so by simply soaking in warm water, your aerobic capacity is expanded. 

Warm water is particularly ideal for seniors. The weightless environment means that exercises that may not be possible on land can be performed pain-free. Just remember to stay abundantly hydrated, since warm water raises your body temperature.


Get in On the Benefits at CA

There’s no one “ideal” water temperature; it really depends on your activity and goals for swimming. In general, cooler water is better suited for higher-intensity activity, while warm water is more therapeutic for the older population or babies and toddlers learning to swim. 

Whatever your preference is, CA has got you covered with pools that range from 79 to 92 degrees.

Check out our temperatures below, ranked from hottest to coldest…

Columbia Athletic Club: 90-92 degrees

Columbia Gym: 85-86 degrees

Main Pool at SWC: 83-84 degrees

Program Pool at SWC: 80-81 degrees

Supreme Sports Club: 79-80 degrees

Learn more about CA’s pools here.

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