Walking along the golden sand, sunbathing with ice cream on hand, and cooling dip into sea-water; nothing makes any other spot a perfect summer hideout than a beach. But, many of us perhaps never have realized that diving in the deep blue sea can come with fantastic health benefits too. While any form of swimming is beneficial for health by reducing risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, invigorating ocean water comes with additional properties like mood-lifting, immune-boosting, and even fat-burning.
According to the medical director of Healthspan Dr. Sarah Brewer, swimming is undoubtedly one of the best all-round exercises working almost all body muscles. But the common cardiovascular benefit of swimming can be perked up with the calorie-burning property of chilly ocean water, as cold water immersion temporarily lowers our cholesterol, burns fat, and improves water retention. According to Dr. Brewer, during cold water swimming, the human body tries to maintain the core temperature of 980 F by increasing the metabolic rate by at least 80%. As a result, we burn more calories easily just to stay warm. Cold temperature also activates the brown fat by increasing the activity of brown adipose tissue in adults, which produces heat in the body helping in combating obesity.
The recent global pandemic situation caused by a single virus has made immunity of health a priority among all ages. Ocean swimming can help here too, as regular exposure to cold water helps build a strong immunity system from infections in a long run. According to Dr. Brewer, engaging in cold water immersion three times a week for only six weeks can significantly increase the numbers of immune cells and levels of powerful antioxidants, hence improving the adaptive tolerance system of the body against environmental stress.
Sea Swimming can also boost mental health and emotional wellbeing. Dr. Brewer suggests regular open water swimming as a form of meditation, as it helps refresh and calm the mind while focusing only on breathing. According to her, cold water immersion stimulates several brain chemicals, particularly endorphin release, thus improves mood and helps in combating anxiety, stress, and depression in long run.
With vaccines on the way and things beginning to look a lot like a world before the pandemic, it’s time to think about your travel list again. It may be too early to plan your next trip, but it doesn’t hurt to start looking for lesser-known or overlooked destinations that won’t be as packed with tourists and can still offer amazing (if not better) experiences. If you’re looking for the perfect hidden gem for your grand 2021 travel itinerary, check out these three options!
1. Greenland, a Unique Experience Many Will Miss
The reality of Greenland as a travel destination is that there is a reason it’s still considered a hidden gem. Getting there is expensive, and it can take several flights to reach it. However, airport expansion plans are underway with direct flights scheduled to connect Greenland with North America, as well as Copenhagen and other cities. When it comes to unique experiences, Greenland won’t disappoint. You can hike an ice sheet, explore Viking history, go kayaking, and take in all the beauty off the coast of Ilulissat.
2. Gabon, a Truly Hidden Gem in Western Africa
If you want to see the true meaning of wildlife, as well as the last remaining wild coastlines of Africa, then a trip to Gabon is a must for you. While you’re there, you might also want to visit the small island nation of Sao Tome & Principe, easily accessible from Gabon’s capital Libreville.
3. Swedish Lapland, a Less Crowded Alternative to Norway
Although Norway tends to steal the spotlight with its breathtaking fjords and dramatic landscapes, many people overlook what lies just next door – the Swedish Lapland. Hidden gem adventurers won’t be disappointed by the compelling views of gentle mountains, pine forests, and powerful rivers and lakes that Sweden has to offer. Not to mention, you can also see the Northern lights from there in the company of virtually no one. The Swedish Lapland isn’t as packed with tourists as Norway, and you can have a truly magnificent experience there.