Looking to Improve Your Physical and Mental Wellness? Consider Taking a Cold Plunge
Cold plunges are a trend that involves immersing yourself in cold water, usually for some type of health benefit.
These icy plunges are gaining popularity as a way to boost immune systems, build resilience to stress, and treat inflammation. Some celebrities, athletes, influencers and others have endorsed cold plunges on social media, where the hashtag #coldplunge has over 1.1 billion views on TikTok.
A cold plunge involves immersing yourself into water that’s somewhere between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. You can create an ice bath with as little as a garbage bag, some ice, and water. However, many people prefer a more concrete pool or tub for their cold water dip.
Potential Health Benefits
The potential benefits of taking a cold plunge or ice bath include:
- Reducing inflammation and swelling
- Assisting with muscle recovery and easing post workout soreness
- Stimulating the production of white blood cells and anti-inflammatory cytokines, which help fight off infection and disease
- Increasing blood flow throughout the body
- Enhancing stress management and mood
- Improving clarity and focus
- Promoting weight loss and metabolism.
Many countries have a long-standing cultural tradition of taking cold plunges, especially in Scandinavia, Central Europe and the Baltic region. Finland, for example, is well-known for its sauna culture, which often involves alternating between hot and cold temperatures. Many Finns enjoy taking a dip in a frozen lake or river after a sauna session, especially in winter. In addition, the United Kingdom saw a surge of interest in cold water swimming during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many people sought a way to cope with stress, anxiety and isolation. Cold water swimming clubs and groups have attracted more members and followers, who claim that swimming in the sea, lakes or rivers helps them feel more alive, happy and resilient.
Before You Jump In
It’s important to consult a doctor before trying cold plunges, especially if you have any medical conditions or concerns. Potential risks include hypothermia, frostbite, skin irritation and infection. And in rare cases, immersion can provoke cardiac arrest, arrhythmia or respiratory distress, particularly in people with underlying health issues. You should also start gradually and limit the duration and frequency of cold plunges to avoid adverse effects.
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