Can Winter Swimming Increase Stroke Risk?

Updated: Sep 13

Swimming in cold water—a popular Finnish winter pastime—increases the risk of strokes, according to a long-term study by Chinese scientists. Researchers compared death rates of winter swimmers and a control group over a thirty year period. Reports Yle Uutiset…


Winter swimming has long been regarded as a healthy pastime in Finland, but a new study by Chinese researchers challenges that view. Studies over shorter periods have shown some health benefits to swimming in cold water, but up to now there has been little research on the longer-term effects.

…The study followed nearly 900 members of a winter swimming club. …The results showed that the winter swimmers’ death rates from heart attacks and strokes were 10 percent higher than would be expected according to statistics from the general population. “This is a long-term study and the sample is large, as there were more than 900 people in it,” said Rintamäki. “When the sample is that big this is a clear difference, so sure in that respect this research was well-conducted.”


The study did not look at how long the Chinese swimmers stayed in the water. In Finland many swimmers only stay submerged for a few seconds at a time—longer periods are always harder for the body to deal with. More…

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