Submerging oneself in ice-cold water triggers a cascade of biological and physiological reactions within the body, some of which may have positive effects on one’s health. Is it possible that exposing yourself to extreme cold could be good for your health?
The practice of lowering one’s core temperature by immersing oneself in cold water, also known as cold water therapy or cold immersion, is exactly what it sounds like. The following are some exemplars of cold immersion:
- The use of ice-cold showers or baths.
- Ice baths (soaking in water with a temperature between 10 – 16 degrees celsius).
- Icy swimming holes or lagoons.
- Going for a stroll outside in the chilly weather.
Let’s take a look at the various advantages to your health that cold therapy can provide.
Cold Immersion Could Assist Your Immune System in Becoming More Active
Your immune system is what protects you from getting sick from viral infections and other illnesses, including the common cold. There are a lot of people who try to strengthen their immune function by taking supplements and vitamins but they aren’t aware that they could achieve better outcomes by going for a walk in the cold or by taking a cold bath. The reason for this is that when you’re confronted with cold temperatures, the white blood cells within your body, which are responsible for fighting infection, keep flowing more rapidly. Your immune system may be able to generate additional infection-fighting troops, such as t-cells and antibodies when it is exposed to cold temperatures.
Why could this be the case? Your catecholamine production is stimulated and your basal metabolic rate is increased when you are exposed to cold. Catecholamines are compounds that are released by your nervous system and are responsible for activating your immune system. According to an article published by Health on Point on the benefits of cold therapy, “Being exposed to uncomfortably low temperatures, seems to activate the longevity genes engaging our survival response.” The use of cold water therapy could further be beneficial in reducing feelings of stress and depression.
Being Exposed to Cold Can Help Manage Stress and Depression
The human body’s normal reaction to any kind of adversity is stress. It is our body’s way of alerting us to pay attention to what is on around us and getting us ready to deal with whatever is going on. It is the purpose of stress to motivate us to take action, whether it be to avoid being hit by a speeding vehicle or to perform to the highest of our abilities on a significant undertaking. The right amount of stress can be beneficial, but only in moderation.
When you are under stress for an excessive amount of time or because of an excessive number of things at the same time, it is challenging for your body to handle the consequences of the stress or recover from it. When this happens, your health and overall well-being may be negatively impacted by stress. Depression can develop in some people who have stress that is not properly managed.
Is it possible that being submerged in ice water or exposed to cold could assist with depression? According to the findings of one piece of research, reducing depressive symptoms by taking a cold shower twice a day was effective. Anecdotal evidence suggests there may be advantages, even though this is a field that requires additional research. The stimulation of your sympathetic nervous system through exposure to cold may be helpful in the treatment of depression in that it will cause you to feel more energized.
The Use of Cold Water After Exercise Has Been Shown to Reduce Muscle Tension
Who among us enjoys having muscles that are sore after working out? When you begin working out for the first time or after an abnormally strenuous intense workout, this is an unavoidable and unfortunate reality of life. It’s very typical to experience delayed onset of muscle discomfort after working your muscles in a way that they aren’t used to doing, so don’t worry if you do.
According to studies, cold water therapy helps reduce muscle pain, which may shorten the amount of time it takes for you to recoup from an exercise session. Because of the lower temperature, the veins in the area of the injury will compress, which means they will narrow. This will result in less inflammation of the surrounding tissue.
When a cold pack is applied to an inflamed tissue, the very same thing takes place as described above. The cold helps decrease the swelling and pain in the tissue. An organic anti-inflammatory, cold has none of the negative side effects that come with pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs. Thermogenesis may be activated and your resting metabolic rate may rise after being exposed to cold, both of which could contribute to weight loss.
Is There a Connection Between Cold Therapy and Weight Loss?
The cold stimulates thermogenesis, the process by which brown fat consumes calories and produces heat by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. One of the reasons cold showers might be helpful for weight loss is because of this. Furthermore, exposing yourself to cold temperatures for an extended period makes you more energetic. This is because you have to move around more to keep warm.
According to some publications, cold water therapy and cold therapy both increase the number of calories that are burned. However, does this assertion have any basis in reality? For instance, does being exposed to the cold make you feel the need to eat more to make up for the calories you’ve burned? It’s a fascinating topic that needs more investigation.
One more way that being exposed to the cold could assist with weight loss is by making the body more insulin sensitive. According to the findings of one research, diabetics experienced a 43 percent increase in their insulin sensitivity after being exposed to cold temperatures for ten days. The regulation of blood glucose should also improve as a result of this. Your cells will be able to remove glucose from your bloodstream more effectively after being exposed to cold, which is beneficial for the health of your metabolism.
Where to Begin When Starting to Do Cold Immersion Exercises
Showering in cold water is the most effective way to ease into cold therapy for those who are just getting started. You’ll need to gradually increase your sensitivity for cold showers if you’re not accustomed to taking them. You should begin by immersing your body in cold water for ten seconds, and then you can turn the heat up as high as you want to.
You should spend longer and longer periods outside in the chilly over several days or months until you can spend an entire minute standing in a frosty river. If you want to get the most out of your cold water therapy, you need to keep it up for at least one minute, so make that the bare minimum duration you aim for.
After a round of cold therapy, you should progressively warm back up. It’s not a wise idea, to begin with, to temperature extremes when you are initially trying to introduce your body to cold immersion; this is particularly true if you are going to give an ice bath a shot for the very first time! As your threshold improves, steadily reduce the temperature of the water. This will aid in the prevention of injuries and shock. Cold Water Immersion in the winter cold may seem like an odd concept at first, but it has the potential to provide some pleasant health benefits.
The Crux of the Matter
The use of cold water therapy and cold immersion may appear to be the guidance that defies common sense, but it seems as though taking a plunge into cold water may have unbelievably positive effects on one’s health. You might want to give cold water therapy or cold immersion a shot if you haven’t done either of those things before. Therefore, I encourage you to either take a bath or a shower and observe the results. However, you should first consult with your primary care physician.