The Benefits of Cold Plunging!
We recently wrote about infrared sauna in an earlier post where we covered all the benefits you can enjoy. At the end of the post, we mentioned that it was even possible to follow the typical Scandinavian habit of immersing yourself in icy water after your sauna when you have an ice bath set up close by!
Now it is time to share some information of the benefits of that ice bath!
There are at least seven benefits...
It is important to go carefully when you begin a journey with ice bath therapy so that you do not become overwhelmed or intimidated. Once you start to learn and engage more with the concept, you might begin to enjoy the benefits of boosting your mood, improving your heart and blood circulation and find you have less symptoms of inflammation.
1. Helping you to relax and rejuvenate
Before you consider the actual ice bath therapy, start by taking quick cold showers in the morning so that it is less extreme and you will feel relaxed and rejuvenated at the same time so you’re ready to tackle the day ahead.
2. Helping mental health and improving mood
Instead of resorting to pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressants, consider cold water immersion therapy which is 100% drug-free and natural. Unlike antidepressants and other drugs for mental conditions, ice baths have the ability to reduce depression, stress levels and anxiety by directly targeting the nervous system in the same way as cold swims, showers or baths do.
Research has found that whole body cryotherapy helps to reduce mental health deterioration. Ice baths are a part of a broader phenomenon known as cryotherapy - the Greek word cryo (κρυο) means cold - which describes a variety of treatments when cold temperatures are used therapeutically.
3. Helping to improve that immune response
Yet another benefit is that cold water therapy can help improve our immune response. The immune system is one of the body’s most important lines of defence.
4. Helping to manage chronic pain conditions
There are many different conditions that can cause chronic pain - for example, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other rheumatoid disorders can be debilitating when not managed properly.
Fortunately, there is scientific evidence that cold therapy can significantly reduce the inflammatory response associated with these rheumatoid conditions.
A word of warning to check with your doctor before starting any form of cold water immersion.
5. Helping to stimulate the vagus nerve
Did you know that the vagus nerve is one of the longest in the body, comprising some seventy five percent of the parasympathetic nervous system and responsible for digestive function, heart rate, reflexes, mood changes and more.
The exposure to the cold of ice bath therapy can improve the quality of life by helping to change your mood, assist healing and contribute to vagus nerve stimulation.
6. Helping to reduce the risk of dementia
We all fear the prospect of aging and possible dementia - that degenerative mental condition that leads to memory loss. Studies have found that cold therapy works to slow loss of memory and of course, as mentioned above, the symptoms of inflammation (thought to be one of the causes of dementia) can be reduced.
7. Helping with weight loss
Weight loss is essential when looking to manage health conditions like diabetes or obesity. The advantage of cold water therapy is that it forces stem cells in the body to create brown fat cells instead of white. You want this to happen because brown fat cells are metabolically active and can burn or oxidize the white fat tissues in the body. Your body is also forced to burn up more of its energy reserve (white fat cells), causing you to lose weight.
Taking a cold plunge can activate the brown adipose and muscles in your body. Once activated, Irisin and FGF will be released. These two hormones burn up the white fat tissues resulting in weight loss.
A Final word!
Cold water therapy — whether it’s a quick swim in icy surf, a post-workout ice bath, or a brisk shower — can benefit your health in several ways:
- By cutting down on muscle soreness
- By cooling down after a sweaty workout
- By getting you into a better mood
- By aiding your immune system
- By boosting your metabolism
In addition, it can also decrease inflammation, improve your sleep quality, and sharpen your mental focus. Research is ongoing to determine if these benefits are supported by science.
But any ice plunging should only be attempted with caution and care.
And if you plan to swim in open water, make sure someone goes with you. Cold water can have profound effects on your circulatory system, and you need to plan for short immersions and gradual warmups afterward.
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4 Proven Benefits Of Ice Baths + How To Do Them At Home | mindbodygreen