Cold water therapy – what are the benefits?
Cold water therapy has become one of the biggest wellness trends in recent years. But what exactly is it? And does it have any health benefits?
Cold water therapy is where you immerse yourself in waters that are generally less than 15 degrees centigrade for a short period of time. This may be in the form of cold showers, wild swimming, ice baths or cold chambers. While it sounds tough going, cold water therapy has actually been linked to a number of health benefits. This includes improved metabolism, better quality of sleep, more focus and an improved immune response.
There’s still some debate in the scientific community about the proven health benefits, but many athletes, health advocates, celebrities and influencers alike swear by it. Here, personal trainer Minnie Samengo-Turner explains what you need to know about cold water therapy. Will you be bold enough to brave it?
Lift your mood
It’s fair to say that cold showers are something of a shock to our bodies, but this could have health benefits too.
Cold water on the skin sends electrical impulses to the brain. This can help to increase mental clarity, and may give energy levels a bit of a boost too. Happy hormones, called endorphins, are also released. This may help to lift your mood and leave you feeling invigorated!
Improve your ciculation
When taken regularly, cold showers may help to increase your circulation. As the cold water hits the surface of your skin, it constricts the circulation to the body surface. Instead, it encourages the blood to circulate faster in your deeper tissues to regulate your body temperate.
With improved circulation, we can improve heart health, enhance mental performance, while supporting the immune system and our metabolism.
Support your immune system
Studies are starting to suggest that cold water therapy may help to support your immune system. It’s thought that cold water increases our white blood cell count and simultaneously stimulates the lymphatic system and boosts blood circulation.
A study of 3000 volunteers in the Netherlands revealed that those who finished their morning showers with a blast of cold water had 29% fewer sick days.
Other research credits cold water as helping our bodies to build up a resistance to stress over time, helping to support the immune system.
Aid your metabolism
Cold water therapy and weight loss are often linked in the wellbeing world. But what’s the truth?
While the research is limited, there’s a general feeling that cold water therapy may help to boost the metabolism. A review in 2009 revealed that immersion in cold water for five minutes or less was associated with an increase in metabolism.
Strengthen your mind
Getting out of our comfort zone is where the magic happens! Doing something you’re not that keen of on a daily basis can have a knock-on effect giving you mental strength to challenge and push yourself in all aspects of life.
Getting out of your comfort zone is where you truly learn and grow.
How to try cold water therapy
- Take a warm to cold shower. Have a cold finish lasting up to 30 seconds, building up to longer stints and gradually getting colder.
- Feeling brave? Go straight into a cold shower. It’s easier in the summer (lets be honest!) so why not try it after a workout?
- Try wild swimming. Take yourself off to your local lido or lake.
- Ice bath. Add ice to a bath getting the temperature between 10-15 degrees and remaining submerged for no longer than 15 minutes.
- Ice Chamber. Try LondonCyro.