Saturday, January 03, 2009

Polar Bear Club

Every New Year's Day, around the world, ordinary folks for no apparent reason don their bathing suits and take a plunge into icy water. Scribbles apparently heard of this tradition and though there was no readily available body of icy water available, she did the next best thing by frolicking in the snow.

No one really knows where this tradition started, but it likely began in Finland. Avantouinti is the Finnish word for "winter swimming". It may sound to many like masochism taken to ridiculous lengths, but it is becoming increasingly popular in Finland where 10% of the population have tried it and there are more than 80,000 regular winter swimmers who tout the therapeutic benefits of winter swimming. The typical swimmer is not some grizzled macho-type, but a middle-aged woman with a clerical job.

Safety Considerations before diving into icy water.
  • Do Not do this if you have high blood pressure and/or heart conditions that will put you at risk when you are immersed in cold water.
  • Do Not drink alcohol prior to doing this. Alcohol does not warm you up and it accelerates hypothermia.
  • Do Not stay in the water longer than 15 minutes. Body heat is lost 25 times faster in water than in air.
  • Do Not remove your clothing until swim time.
What are the benefits of taking a polar bear plunge.
1) Shocking the circulatory system can produce a warm afterglow and a transcendental state that one
literally needs to experience to fully understand.
2) It is a spiritually uplifting ritual which can surpass any normal level of comprehension.
3) It can reduce wrinkles. Drastic temperature changes and shivering skin actually exercise shallow
sub-cutaneous muscles that firm the skin.
4) You become part of history rooted in the European tradition of saunas and cold-water swimming.
5) Jumping in near-freezing water wearing little more than a pair of shorts takes a brave soul.
6) Participants build a sense of camaraderie and valued friendships that can last a lifetime.
7) It helps mentally by shortening the winter season and lifts bouts of depression.
8) It's a heck of lot cheaper and safer than walking on coals.

1 comment:

DJ said...

Hmmm, this has sparked my curiousity. Does it make you more immune to cold weather? Does it force your body to make more heat all the time? Will you eventually be unable to tolerate heat? Will you eventually have to move to Finland or risk spontaneously combusting?