Neurotic psychopathology and alexithymia among winter swimmers and controls--a prospective study

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2002 May;61(2):123-30. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v61i2.17444.


Random samples of 25 voluntary Finnish winter swimmers (7 males, 18 females) and 11 controls (3 males, 8 females were followed prospectively during the winter season from October 1999 to May 2000 to (determine whether winter swimming is beneficial for mental well-being, as many of its practitioners claim. The Crown-Crisp Experimental Index (CCEI) was used for measuring free-floating anxiety, phobic anxiety, obsessionality, depression, somatic anxiety and hysteria, and the 20-item version of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) for measuring alexithymia. Self-reported somatic and mental health and the reasons for and the frequency of winter-swimming were asked, too. As resealed by open questions, the winter swimmers reported positive effects of winter swimming. Several of the swimmers also told that they had started winter swimming to improve their physical and mental health. Their experience was that the swimming had relieved physical symptoms and made their mood more positive. However, we found no major differences between winter swimmers and controls in any CCEI or TAS variables. The structured questionnaires do not necessarily, however, reach subjective feelings and experiences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Affective Symptoms / blood
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology*
  • Affective Symptoms / therapy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / blood
  • Neurotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Neurotic Disorders / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons*
  • Self Care
  • Self Efficacy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Swimming / psychology*


  • Hormones