Unless you’ve spent the last couple of years submerged in an ice bath, you won’t have missed the meteoric rise of cold water therapy.
It’s a practice that’s been around for centuries, but immersing yourself in cold water is now one of the hottest health trends… and with good reason.
Far from being a fad, cold water therapy offers real health benefits in a number of areas:
Boost your immune system
Cold water therapy can stimulate your body’s immune system, boosting anti-inflammatory properties and helping you fight off infections.
Studies show the repeated exposure to cold water encourages a stronger response in your cells. When you’re fighting an infection, this response is highly beneficial.
Improve your mood
The restorative powers of water can help to minimise stress and reduce anxiety, and may even go some way to helping you deal with depression.
Whether it’s outdoor swimming or a cold shower, studies have shown cold water therapy greatly improves the mood of participants and can alleviate any mental health symptoms you might be struggling with.
Reduce muscle pain and stiffness
Want to minimise the effects of DOMS? Get into that ice cold bath. Cold water helps with both muscle pain and soreness by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow.
It’s the same reason you apply ice to reduce inflammation and swelling on injuries.
Supports good cardiovascular health
The shock of cold water therapy stimulates a stronger response from your heart, which can help you to strengthen it. Some studies have shown regular exposure to cold water helps reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease, by improving blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels.
It can even increase your metabolism and support weight loss.
Increases your energy levels
Advocates of cold water therapy like Wim Hof claim that it can also increase your energy levels, and it’s easy to see why.
Not only does a brisk cold shower leave you eager to get moving to warm up, the reduction of inflammation and the mood improvements, when combined with breathing techniques, will leave you ready to attack the day.
Helps you sleep better
That boost of endorphins, stress release and improved focus, coupled with a feeling of relaxation and calmness, will also help you sleep better when your head hits the pillow.
To try: Start slowly and build gradually
Cold water therapy isn’t for everyone. If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, speak with a doctor.
But if you’re ready to start, ease in slowly. Start with a cold water shower for just 15 seconds a day. After a week, increase the time immersed in cold water to 30 seconds, then a full minute.
Then explore your options for full submersion, with ice baths and/or outdoor swimming.