Cold Water Therapy is a trend sweeping the globe as people discover its benefits for their health. It can take the form of outdoor swimming in lakes or rivers, cold showers or even ice baths. It’s popular among athletes who find it speeds up muscle recovery, and is even endorsed by the likes of Wim Hof, the anecdotal hangover doctor that graces TikTok and has become a celebrity in his own right with a TV series.
Incorporating regular cold water immersion into your daily routine has been shown to improve multiple aspects of well-being and longevity. Cold exposure stimulates healthy brown fat and increases circulation, so it’s a better way to warm up than a hot bath or sauna.
It also numbs pain by constricting the blood vessels around it. This is why ice is a go-to remedy for everything from bee stings to sprained ankles. In a study of a group of volleyball players, researchers found that cold water immersion enhanced muscle recovery by reducing swelling, allowing them to get back on the field sooner after a workout.
The regular practice of cold immersion can also reduce stress and anxiety in some individuals. In a case study, a woman who regularly swam in cold open water reported that her depression and anxiety symptoms diminished over time.
If you’re interested in incorporating cold water therapy into your daily routine, start small and slowly build up to a more regular practice. It’s important to remember that cold water can shock the system, so it’s vital to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard or too fast.