Cold plunging or cold hydrotherapy is becoming more popular. This is because the health benefits of cold plunging are being studied more. People are realizing that dunking yourself in cold water has more benefits than just easing sore muscles after a workout. Examples of cold plunging or hydrotherapy are ice baths, brisk daily showers, outdoor swims usually in natural bodies of water, cold water immersion, or cryotherapy. Some of these you have the ability to do yourself, while others you would have to find a specific gym or place that offers the services.
When you first begin to cold plunge it is important to start slow. Starting at a higher degree of water temperature and in small increments to help your body get adjusted. Cold plunging is defined as submerging your whole body on purpose in water that ranges from 59 degrees Fahrenheit to below. The first day you may start with 59 degree water, for only 30 seconds. The next day you could keep the water at the same temperature but last for 40 seconds. These small steps will help you then be able to increase your time and lower the temperature of water as you progress.
Exposing your body to the cold water on purpose can help you regulate your nervous system and learn how you can better manage stress. Your body may experience elevated heart rate, feelings of panic, body contractions, and shallow breathing when exposed to the cold water. These are similar responses to other stressors you may experience. When you cold plunge it stimulates the Vagus Nerve and lowers your heart rate and reduces stress hormones. At the same time it increases your mood-elevating hormones and neurotransmitters which can help with depression and reduce stress.
One benefit of cold plunging is that it helps improve your circulation. When you first get into the water, the blood starts being pumped to essential organs, then as you come out of the water and your body starts to warm up the body regulates blood pumping throughout the body. This enhances the blood flow, oxygenates cells, organs, and muscles. Improved circulation can also help increase your energy levels since oxygen is being pushed through the body optimally. Improved circulation can also help with heart health, boosting your immune system, and help with mental health.
Ease Muscle Aches
A benefit that most people have heard about especially from ice baths is it helps decrease muscle soreness. The cold causes the blood vessels to constrict. This will reduce the blood flow to sore or injured muscles. The cold can also help reduce inflammation. The same theory behind putting an ice pack on a swollen muscle or joint.
Ice baths or cold plunges aren’t just for athletes. Some people with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, or rheumatism have seen improvement in their pain when they have started cold plunging. In some cases it has been shown to stop the need for anti-inflammatory drugs, or over the counter pain medicines for every day aches and pains.
Prevent Heat Exhaustion
When working out, or being active outside in the heat of the summer can cause you to overheat. When overheated it is said to run your wrists under cold water. This can help your body cool down. Cold plunging can quicken the process of cooling down by dunking your entire body into cold water.
Being submerged into cold water can cause your body to start to shiver. The shivering that your body does due to the cold plunge can help you burn extra calories. In return can help lead to weight loss. Some studies have shown that cold plunge can speed up your metabolic rate, which can also help you burn fat more effectively. There isn’t much concrete evidence though that the extra calorie burn, or the faster metabolism will directly cause you to lose weight from doing a cold plunge.
Boost Immune System
Other benefits of continuously doing cold plunges are it can help boost your immune system. It helps stimulate your immune response which allows your immune system to respond quicker when attacked. If you do a cold plunge consistently there are studies showing that it may also boost anti-tumor immunity.
Good For Skin & Hair
Cold plunging helps nourish your skin and hair. The cold stops your pores from opening up trapping in the natural oils of your skin and hair keeping them moisturized.
Cold plunging can help enhance fertility.
It also improves lymphatic movement. The lymphatic system is made up of the lymph nodes, lymph vessels, lymphatic fluid, bone marrow, and spleen. This network helps the body cleanse by clearing out cellular waste and microbes.
Some benefits are more backed up by studies than others. Cold plunging is becoming hugely popular among other people than just athletes. There are more benefits that people are claiming they are getting from cold plunging every day. More research is being done.
Submerging your body into cold water may help boost your mood, energy, immune system, heart health, and burn extra calories.
Cold plunging or hydrotherapy has more health benefits than just easing muscle soreness! #HealthSurgeon