The benefits of swimming in the sea

Woman swimming in the sea - Benefits of seawater swimming

The benefits of swimming in the sea are countless. If the most obvious benefit for a swimmer is the extra buoyancy given by salt water, there are many other benefits. In this post, I list the major benefits of swimming in the sea.

Before I make a list of the benefits, I would like to talk a bit about the definition of hydrotherapy and particularly thalassotherapy.


Thalassotherapy and hydrotherapy were practised by ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. Both words come from Greek.

  • Hydro = water
  • Thalassa = sea
  • Therapia = cure

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to relieve discomfort and promote physical well-being.

Thalassotherapy is a seawater treatment indicated to cure rheumatism, dermatological affections, respiratory issues, blood circulation disorders, anxiety and depression.

The thalassotherapy does not just use seawater but also the marine environment’s benefits such as climate, marine mud, algae, sand and other substances extracted from the sea.

Seawater contains many minerals essential to the body, such as sodium chloride, potassium, magnesium or calcium.

Benefits of swimming in the sea for the mind

As explained in this Harvard Health Publishing’s article, exercising in high-intensity releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. While low-intensity exercise releases neurotrophic or growth factors. Either way, exercise improves brain function, which helps relieve depression.

benefits seawater swimming
Photo by Simon Rae on


The extra benefits of swimming are that your head and your ears are in the water. You can literally enter your own bubble, leaving outside noises and problems. Sounds underwater are different and quite meditative.


The swimming breathing pattern is also different from the “earth” breathing. Unlike our regular breathing, when we exhale in the water we push the air out making it active of sympathetic. As you guessed it, inhaling when our head comes out of the water to take a breath is passive, or parasympathetic. In the water, we also exhale much longer. This breathing technique is used in yoga and meditation as it has relaxing effects.


The fact that we are swimming out in the open, our body completely weightless, isolated from outside noises, and using meditative breathing is probably the best antianxiety therapy.

Benefits of swimming in the sea for our body

Thalassotherapy is known to help our immune system, skin, blood circulation, rheumatism, and arthritis. So how does it work? The seawater, as we previously mentioned, contains a lot of essential minerals. It is the French physiologist René Quinton who realized at the end of the 19th century that seawater has a very similar composition as our blood plasma. It is believed that when we are immersed in seawater we are able to assimilate these elements and improve our health.

Endurance and strength

Swimming in the sea also helps improve our strength and cardiovascular endurance. Once we are in nature and in a meditative state, we easily forget about time and distance. It is like going for a long walk, or a long run but without the impact on our joints.

We already know that regular exercise has beneficial effects on our mind. According to science, physical training has effects on cardiac and skeletal muscle metabolism. Endurance training improves our cardiovascular system and thus our health and quality of life. 

benefits seawater swimming

Weight management

Once we have enough cardiovascular endurance, swimming is also the best physical activity to manage weight. It is known to be one of the most calorie consuming physical activities. Once again without impacting our joints.


The benefits of the seawater have been used for a very long time to help heal our body. Besides the advantage it directly has on our body, the activity of swimming has also great cardiovascular health benefits.

Those alone are great benefits! But after a rough year, our mental health has been a preoccupation. I personally am not swimming so much for fitness but mainly for my mind. Swimming in the sea is a great escape in so many ways.

If you are new to open water swimming, check my previous articles about the essentials of open water swimming equipment and my favourite accessories for open water swimming.

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