3 uncommon benefits of Cold Water Exposure
Sep 22, 2023
5 years ago I took a course called the Wim Hof Method. At the time many professional athletes and biohackers were saying it was the best thing out there. Special breath techniques and ice baths were combined to deliver a full workshop with the science behind it, education on why it is beneficial and an integrated experience that left a lasting imprint on my mind.
Cold water exposure, also known as cold water therapy or cold water immersion is trending at perhaps here to stay. The attention in recent years is due to its health benefits and many companies
now specialize in making an ice bath suitable for installing at home.
While most people associate cold water with discomfort, there is growing evidence to suggest that exposing oneself to cold water can yield several uncommon advantages. Below I will outline and explore three lesser-known benefits of cold water exposure, namely enhanced immune function, improved mental well-being, and increased metabolic activity.
1. Enhanced Immune Function:
One of the most surprising benefits of cold water exposure is its potential to enhance immune function. Studies have shown that cold water immersion can stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are key components of the body's immune system. In particular, exposure to cold water has been found to increase the number of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in fighting off infections and cancer cells. Additionally, cold water exposure has been linked to increased levels of circulating cytokines, which are signaling molecules that regulate immune responses. By bolstering the immune system, cold water exposure can help individuals become more resilient to various diseases and infections.
2. Improved Mental Well-being:
Cold water exposure has also been associated with improved mental well-being, offering relief from stress, anxiety, and depression. When exposed to cold water, the body releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers. However what is more underratted is the use of the breath that acts as regulator with the nervous system. While cold water exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system, triggering the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that improves focus, attention, and overall cognitive function- it is the slow nasal breathing that allows the person to remain calm and collected. Regular cold water exposure with this kind of slow deep breathing has been reported to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, providing individuals with a natural and accessible means of improving their mental health.
3. Increased Metabolic Activity:
Cold water exposure has the potential to boost metabolic activity, leading to increased calorie burning and potential weight loss. When exposed to cold water, the body must work harder to its maintain core temperature, thereby increasing its metabolic rate. This increased metabolic activity not only helps burn calories during the exposure but can also have a lasting effect, as the body continues to burn calories to restore its core temperature after the cold water exposure. Moreover, cold water exposure has been found to activate brown adipose tissue (BAT), a specialized type of fat that generates heat by burning regular white fat. Activating BAT can contribute to weight management and improve overall metabolic health.
Coach Paige as well as Dr. Matt both enjoy using cold water exposure to help regulate the nervous system yet also maintain a strong robust physiology. While Paige has converted an old meat freezer into an ice bath to use at home, Matt has been known to visit his local recovery center Optimyze
where there are up to 4 different cold water options. If you have done some ice baths or cold water exposure we would love to hear about your experience. Hit us up. Send a massage or email us with you thoughts.