Cold Water Immersion Benefits
Cold water immersion has become more trendy, more popular and more well-known and there is a good reason for this. Its popularity comes from its many health benefits, and today we are focusing on those that relate to preventative health.
Cold water immersion how it works
Cold water immersion causes a very fast drop in temperature (it is a bit of a shock to the system). Mentally, it puts you immediately into the moment and brings you into your body.
Physically one of the ways it helps your health is with the fast drop in temperature causes vasoconstriction. Blood rushes to the vital organs in the body. So even though it feels quite shocking and uncomfortable on the outside, you’re getting increased circulation to your vital organs.
Health benefits of cold water immersion
It is said to be helpful for:
- lowering stress levels
- creating more mental toughness and resilience
- increasing your immune system
- boosting your circulation
- improving sleep
- feeling calmer
- positively affecting your parasympathetic nervous system
- increasing your metabolic function
- improving mood
- decreasing doms (delayed onset muscle soreness)
How to get started with cold water immersion
Not everyone lives near to the sea or to a pool, for many these may also not be accessible for other reasons. So how do you get started?
A great way to start is with a cold shower or bath. A top tip is to have your normal shower, then at the end just slowly, turn it a bit colder. This way you have control, it is a little less shocking and you can start building your resilience that way. In a bath, you can have your bath as normal, and as you drain the water just hose yourself down with the shower head on cold.
Even just a cold splash of water to the face will work as a starting point – just start playing with it and seeing how it feels.
Recommended temperature and time
If you are thinking about going cold water swimming, you want to look at a pool that is under about 15 degrees. The general rule is that you should stay in the water for as many minutes as it is cold. So for instance, if the pool is 14 degrees, so it is recommended to stay in for 14 minutes.
It takes a bit of time to get warm afterwards, but do not turn the hot shower on straight away, just let yourself ease into feeling warm afterwards.
Post Swim high
It does feel great in your body once you come out. This is known as the ‘postswim high’ triggered by the release of beta-endorphins.
“The body is responding with all the stress hormones…you’ll see changes in all of the fight-or-flight biochemical and hormonal responses. It’s raising your heart rate, your ventilation. That’s the thing that makes people say: ‘I feel alive, I feel alert, it wakes me up for the rest of the day.’”
Mike Tipton (Researcher at the University of Portsmouth)