Lifestyle / Health

Hein Kaiser
Journalist
3 minute read
4 Nov 2021
6:24 am

Skinny-dipping is good for you, the experts say

Hein Kaiser

There is a growing move toward naturism, snuggling up to nature and swimming naked. Here's what you need to know about skinny-dipping.

South Africa ranks 7th in the world for best skinny dipping spots. Picture: iStock/ alessia penny

South Africa has been ranked 7th in the world for the best skinny-dipping experience by outdoor adventure site Outforia.

France came in first followed by the United States and Spain while Mzansi beat the United Kingdom, Italy and Greece in the buff-stakes.

Skinny-dipping in South Africa

According to the site, there are about 17 spots to shed your kit locally along with some 25 campsites where you don’t need to care for clothes.

And there’s no better way to cool down from a hot South African summer’s day than to take a dip in the pool or a chill in the ocean.

But do it naked.

It can be really good for you on many levels. Even Benjamin Franklin did it over a century and a bit ago and according to people who do it often it feels good, too.

While it may not be the socially okay thing to do, there are a few nudist beaches in South Africa where you can catch a wave in the buff of, of course, if you’re lucky enough to have your own pool, at home is always a safe bet to skinny-dip.

Health benefits of skinny-dipping

While naughty no-nos are the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about nudity and skinny-dipping, dermatologist Dr Lushen Pillay says that the health benefits of shedding your kit poolside are substantial.

“You expose more of your skin to the sun. So, from a beneficial point of view, you get more vitamin D and a quick amount of vitamin D at that. The advantage of that is that you don’t have to spend that long in the sun to get the vitamin D that you need,” he says.

“We know it is so important in the immune system, especially during the Covid era. We’ve seen people who have low vitamin D levels are more prone to the complications of Covid. So skinny dipping, getting more of the body involved, having no clothes on does help.”

For most of us, skinny-dipping is something you do when you’ve had too many cocktails.

But beyond getting your fill of vitamin D, there seem to be many other benefits to consider, including improved body image and even better sleep cycles.

“There is mood improvement, anxiety and depressive moods are lessened too,” notes Dr Pillay.

“It is actually natural, and human beings have been doing it all their lives if you think about it.”

Garment complications

As with underwear, tight clothing like costumes can create skin wellness complications. Dr Pillay says that the skin can react to these skin-tight garments.

“The water causes friction against the skin and can cause an increase in fungal infections.

So, when we are not wearing any clothes the decrease of friction automatically minimises the chances of gaining skin conditions associated with it.”

Online research shows that there is a growing move toward naturism, snuggling up to nature and swimming naked.

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Emotional and psychological benefits

Social media conversations focus on the wellness aspects of skinny dipping as well as the emotional and psychological benefits as Dr Pillay alluded to.

New Zealand author Kate Uwins co-wrote New Zealand, a skinny-dipping guide to the country’s South Island.

She said in an interview that she always loved nature, but it was only when she ditched her swimming costume and removed everything man-made from her body that she truly felt part of the natural world around her.

At home, Sandy Bay in Cape Town is the ultimate skinny-dipping ocean experience and it’s been rumoured that there are many secret hideouts in the Drakensberg mountains, including it’s said, the river at Woodcliffe farm that is conducive for a bathe in the buff.

Those in the know also share that the Silvermine dam in Cape Town is a hot spot along with the MacMac pools in Mpumalanga and Mpenjati Beach on the KwaZulu Natal South Coast.