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Ice ice baby

11.2.2016 Text: Helsinki This Week Photos: Mikko Ryhänen
Ice swimming

One of the most crazy-sounding winter activities in Finland is ice swimming. Basically it means taking a dip in the frozen sea or lake.

Winter swimming, or ice swimming, is a traditional and popular winter activity in Finland. It’s popular mainly because of its health benefits and the ultimate feeling that it gives. The scientific studies show ice swimming increases blood circulation, relieves pains in the head-shoulder area, decreases depression, and helps people who suffer from rheumatism or asthma. Winter swimmers experience less stress and have better general well-being.

If you’re a beginner, we recommend that you take a sauna first before going to the ice-hole. You should have some kind of shoes to make walking to the swimming place safer and more pleasant. Some swimming places use a specific heated carpet going from the locker rooms to the ice-hole. Also some kind of warm woolly hat is recommended, because your body loses heat in the icy water. Never dive or jump in the water! Instead, let your body get use to the cold water.
First it may cause you a feeling of gasping air, but after a couple of seconds you’ll feel much better. Immediately after swimming you should go to sauna or put warm clothes on. It’s also good to enjoy some beverages or a snack to raise your blood sugar level.

In Helsinki, you can try ice swimming in Uunisaari Island.
Ice swimming is available on Sauna Sundays (every Sunday till April) and also when renting sauna for private use. More info at

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