Scientists dipped vinterbadingsjomfuer, experienced yoga practitioners and vinterbadere in ice-cold water. . The goal was to find out how the winter swimming affects the body.
Ice-cold, dark and anti-human. In winter, almost screaming sea that you should stay away.

Yet there is isbadere. Bo Belhage clinically professor and physician at the University of Copenhagen. He's even winter swimming, and, along with three colleagues investigated vinterbadingens effect on the body.

Shock Treatment

The journey in the icy water is short, shock treatment, "explains Belhage.

The body cool down extremely fast, and the body's defense begins. Blood vessels constrict and the shock triggers a cocktail of endorphins and adrenaline in the blood.

But the effect depends on whether you are an experienced winter bathing, or if you've never tried it before. In an experiment compared Belhage and his colleagues how 16 volunteers responded to their first experience of winter swimming.

Participants should stay in a tub of ice cold water for a minute. They had measured heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and blood flow in the brain.

The researchers expected to see a rise in both heart rate and blood pressure but it remained largely unchanged.

- We were very surprised. The literature we had studied, said the vessels would pull together and that it would provide a powerful pulse.

- Blood vessels pulled together, but we only saw a small increase in heart rate because they were strained by the inconvenience of having to down in cold water.

- What was surprising was that we saw no effect on blood pressure and pulse rate. We had expected a rise, and increased blood flow in the brain, but we saw the opposite, says Belhage.

Hyperventilation and dull blood

Experienced vinterbadere will sometimes swim up to five minutes.
Research indicates that a minute in the tub may have almost the same effect as 20 minutes on a bike or a run - it is not studied well enough yet.
(Photo: Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff )
Tub with cold water offered several surprises.

- We saw that as soon as the butt came in contact with the icy water, the volunteers began out of pure reflex to hyperventilating, "says Belhage.

Hyperventilation is what happens when breathing is faster than the normal seven liters air per minute.

In the test, was average for the volunteers in 35 liters of air per minute, during the one minute they would be in the water, but some of the volunteers had a breath of 200 liters of air per minute.

At the same time decreased blood flow in the brain. Some came down in 25 percent of its normal blood flow, while the average dropped to 50 percent of its normal flow.


Shock effect is a minute, and it is dangerous.

During the experiment, two untrained vinterbadere fainted. If you are in the water and the faints, drowning man. Therefore, one should never winter swimming alone. Vinterbaderne and science, recommends starting with winter swimming in summer.

- If one starts in August, you can easily get gradually and slowly you become an experienced winter bathing, recommend Belhage.

But what happens during training? Is it in the body, brain or both, there is a change?

To find out, researchers compared the results from the inexperienced vinterbaderne with two other groups - skilled and experienced vinterbadere yoga practitioners.

Vikings and yoga people

The researchers did not see any real change in the experienced vinterbadernes bodies. They gave up a little "huh" when they came under water, but otherwise they could be in the water up to five minutes at a time. Heart rate did not rise, and it did not do blood pressure.

Yoga people had never bathed before winter, but they are known to be good at controlling the breath. Yet there was virtually no difference in the reactions of people, yoga and other inexperienced.

- If it is purely mental, yoga people should be able to counter it, since there is a degree of reflection in it, but it did not.

- Much is due to training. There seems to be a learning in the body. Other research suggests that the body will be able to remember the experience up to a half later, "says Belhage.

The hen or the egg

Studies show that vinterbadere few sick days and they feel healthier - but scientists do not know what comes first.

Is that healthy people as winter swimming - or will you be healthier to winter bathing? There is not much literature on it.

- A German study followed a half years vinterbaderes ability to convert sugar in the body. They found that there was a halving of the insulin requirement. This suggests that winter swimming provides a better sugar revenue, and it will probably provide less of a tendency to diabetes, but this is with a thick underline perhaps, says Belhage.

Will have the positive effects of winter swimming, Belhage recommend that you take a dip about three times a week