Polar bear in waters off Svalbard, Norway
© Westend61/Getty Image
Take the plunge into 2021
Happy New Year! Last year was pretty bracing and most of us are more than ready to start a new one. This polar bear seems to be shaking off 2020 with his own very own—and very authentic—polar bear plunge in the waters off the Svalbard archipelago way up in the Arctic Ocean. Though the earliest records of organised ice swimming come from Russia (naturally), the practice is now very widespread. All around the world, hardy souls will be starting the new year with their own dip into icy waters.
For many, the plunge will raise money for charities, but cold-water swims have other benefits as well. Those healthy enough to do it and who have trained for it know that ice swimming has been shown to have some measurably positive health effects. Regular participants report less stress, fatigue, and chronic pain, as well as better memory function, mood, and energy levels. Or, you could just snuggle down deeper under the covers and sleep off last night’s excesses for a little bit longer and see if 2021 looks any better.