Cold water therapy is rapidly gaining in popularity and whilst stripping off and plunging your body into cold water may not seem appealing, with the many benefits being reported, maybe it’s time to think again.
Whether it's in the form of cold showers, wild swimming, ice water baths or another method, submerging ourselves in water lower than 15 degrees provides numerous health benefits.
The practice has been around for centuries with Hippocrates being credited with first extolling the health benefits of hydrotherapy in medicinal practices. Ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Greek civilizations have also been documented as using cold water therapy as a medicinal cure. So, what can it do for us today?
According to Wim Hof “We as humans have developed a different attitude towards nature and we have forgotten our inner power.”
By harnessing our inner strength, which can be found through exposing our body to cold water, amongst other things, we can once again achieve our inner power. Converts and scientists are beginning to agree with some of the top benefits mentioned below.
Several pieces of research have indicated that cold water therapy can stimulate the body’s immune system. When the immune system is strong we can fight off colds and viruses more easily and generally have less illness.
It's thought that cold water helps to boost the white blood cell count because the body is forced to react to changing conditions. Gradually the body gets better at stimulating its own defences thus improving immunity.
Research shows that cold water immersion makes your lymph vessels contract, this makes your lymphatic system pump lymph fluids throughout your body, which in turn triggers the immune system’s white blood cells to attack and destroy any unwanted substance in the fluid, and this way keeping illness at bay.
A 2007 research study found that cold showers can help treat depression symptoms, and if used regularly may be more beneficial than traditional prescription medications.
This is due to the trigger cold water brings to mood-boosting neurotransmitters, which make you feel happy. A separate study that analysed the effects of regular winter swimming on the mood of swimmers showed that after four months of routine cold water swimming, the subjects felt more energetic, active and spritely than the control group.
Helps weight loss
Some studies have shown that immersion in cold water can speed up your metabolic rate, which helps you to burn calories quicker.
More studies are needed but it's thought the heart has to pump faster in cold water and the body generally has to work harder to keep everything warm, thus burning more calories
Reduces muscle soreness
Many athletes use ice baths or cold showers as part of their training. This is because the cold water helps lower the temperature of damaged muscle tissue and constricted blood vessels.
Research shows that this can help reduce any swelling and inflammation. However you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from this strategy, a cold shower after the gym can help everyone's muscles.
How to start cold water therapy?
- Start by taking warm showers and then turn it to cold for the last couple of minutes, as you get used to it you'll be able to take longer cold showers.
- Take an open water swim, don’t dive in but walk in slowly until you acclimatise, and remember to never swim alone.
- Take an ice bath, experts say that 10-15 minutes is optimal but you can work your way towards this.
- If you have any health concerns talk to your doctor first.
The important thing is to find the right method for you so that you can reap the benefits.
If you want to add more immunity-boosting activities into your day, drinking one of our organic superfood juices could be just the thing. Packed with nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants it’s a great way to boost from within.