When you live in Stockholm, it’s easy to enjoy the water in the summer. There are lots of places to swim, cool off or just enjoy the sunshine. But as with any time you spend time in the sun or outside on a hot day, there are some precautions to keep in mind such as protecting your skin with sunscreen, wearing sunglasses and staying hydrated.
How your body reacts to cold water
The water in and around Stockholm may look welcoming, but it isn’t always very warm. The same temperature feels much colder in water than in air because water has a higher density and transports heat away from the body more efficiently, so it’s easier to become chilled in water. That said, cold water swimming has been proven to boost mood, help the body respond to stress and even aid with memory loss.
Keep in mind that the body can react strongly to sudden changes in temperature. For example, you may have noticed that you gasp when you enter cold water and breathe quickly initially. This is part of the body’s fight or flight response as it responds to the stress caused by the cold temperature. As part of this response, your heart rate increases and sugar and fat are released into the bloodstream to generate more energy. Blood is also directed away from the skin to muscles and organs to keep as much heat as possible in the core of the body.
These changes can affect how your body feels when you’re in the water and afterwards. If the water temperature is low, you may also have less sensation in your hands and feet so be careful getting in and out of the water. Your body will be using up a lot of energy keeping you warm so you could also feel tired after swimming in cold water. It’s important to listen to your body and replenish the energy you’ve used up. This is why it’s good to eat both before and after swimming, especially in cold water.
Your body still sweats in water if you’re working hard, just you don’t always feel sweaty or thirsty. This is why it’s important to drink while swimming to make up for water lost through sweating. One sign that you should drink more is if you’re breathing heavily. This means you’re working at a high intensity. And it’s most likely that you’re also swimming hard enough to work up a sweat. So bring a water bottle!
Slap on the sunscreen
Water offers little or no protection from the sun’s rays and you can actually get sunburned in the water. Sunburn is caused by UV-B ultraviolet rays, which are partially absorbed by water although not sufficiently enough to prevent damage when you swim near the surface. Also, the cooling effect of water makes you less aware of the heat of the sun reaching your skin, which means you may stay in the sun longer than if you weren’t in the water.
This is why it’s important to always use waterproof sunscreen with plenty of time to absorb into your skin before swimming.
Protect your eyes
As well as your skin, your eyes are at risk of damage from the sun. This is increased when you spend time in and around water since the sun’s rays are reflected off the water as well as coming directly from the sun. It’s best to wear a hat or sunglasses with UV protection and remember not to underestimate the amount of light reflected by the water.
With this in mind, just pack your towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, water and something to eat and enjoy the beaches and lakes Stockholm has to offer. Stay safe!