Immersing yourself in cold water has a lot of health benefits. It’s becoming a more popular option for health and wellbeing among health influencers, athletes, celebrities, trainers, and others. But, what’s the reason for it, and how exactly can it benefit your health? If you want to get involved with some cold water immersion therapy, what options are available, and how could you benefit from it?
What is Cold Water Therapy?
Cold water therapy involves using cold water that is around 59 degrees F to stimulate health benefits or treat various health conditions. It can also be known as cold hydrotherapy. People have been doing this for hundreds of years, but it’s only becoming mainstream as of recently. There are lots of ways to do it including having a cold shower every day, immersing yourself in an ice bath, cold open water swimming and more.
Benefits of Cold Water Therapy
There are lots of potential health benefits of the best cold plunge options. People who support this technique believe that cold water immersion and therapy can help with improving your sleep, boosting your energy levels, improving circulation, and reducing inflammation in the body. However, there hasn’t been a lot of research into it yet, so there is mainly anecdotal evidence to support these claims. However, there are a handful of benefits of cold water therapy that are supported by scientific evidence. These are:
Help with Muscle Soreness
Although there is some debate around the details, studies have suggested that athletes who soak in cold water for a short period after working out experience less muscle soreness later on. In 2011, a study found that cyclists who immersed themselves in cold water for ten minutes after completing an intense training session had decreased soreness. Medical experts suggest that the main reason cold water can help with pain is due to contraction of the blood vessels. This reduces blood flow to the affected area, helping to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Can Help with Depression Symptoms
While cold water is not a cure for a mental health condition, there have been some studies that have suggested that some people with depression and anxiety have experienced lesser symptoms after cold open water swimming. Researchers have also found that following a program of short, cold showers twice a day can decrease depressive symptoms, although nobody who participated in the study had been diagnosed with depression.
Cool Down Faster
If you are overheated for a reason, immersing yourself in cold water can help to cool you down and regulate your body temperature must faster than simply resting in a cool environment. In 2015, a meta-analysis of nineteen studies found that coming into contact with cold water at a temperature of around 50 degrees F helped to cool off people who have been overheated twice as quickly as they would cool down otherwise.
Improve the Immune System
There is also some evidence that cold water therapy can help to strengthen your body’s immune system, which can in turn help you become more able to fight illness and disease. In one study from The Netherlands, positive results were found regarding the immune response in people who practiced cold water immersion along with deep breathing techniques and meditation. Participants produced fewer pro-inflammatory cytokines and more anti-inflammatory chemicals when exposed to a bacterial infection. However, bear in mind that researchers suggested that the breathing exercises had a bigger impact on this compared to the cold water immersion.
Cold water therapy can be effective for improving your health, or simply waking you up and helping you feel more energetic. If you are interested in giving it a try, start small and build up gradually and safely.