For centuries people have used cold water for mental, physical, emotional, spiritual growth and healing. Hippocrates (460 – 370 BC) a Greek physician and is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine, often credited as being the first person to document the health benefits of hydrotherapy. Thomas Jefferson used a cold foot bath every morning for six decades to ‘maintain his good health.’

What is cold water therapy?

Cold water therapy is the practice of using water that’s around 50-55°F, to treat health conditions or stimulate health benefits. Recent adaptions of cold water therapy include, ice baths, outdoor swims, cold showers, and cold water therapy sessions.

Cold water immersion, is not for everybody.

There are potential risks associated with cold water submersion, a rapid temperature change like this, is dangerous for unhealthy adults, adults with cardiac or heart-related issues, pregnant women, or anyone struggling with blood pressure. For these demographics, cold plunges should be avoided altogether. As always, it’s important to talk to your licensed healthcare practitioner before starting any new activities that may affect any pre-existing health conditions. 

Why I love a cold water swim!

I started swimming in an unheated pool in the winter months because,  I like to try new things. So, I did my research and read through cold water precautions and thought I would give it a try. My first winter swim was three months ago, the air temperature was 62° F, the water temperature was 59° F.

It was SHOCKING…but in so many good ways…

Full transparency, my kids hate it, they said it did NOTHING for them. Remember, this is not for everyone, please consult with your medical professional before taking the plunge.

What are the benefits of cold water therapy?

Supporters of this cold water technique believe it can;

 

Dr. Rhonda Patrick has written her findings cold water therapy exposure, her research describes the beneficial effects of cold exposure may be due to hormesis, a favorable biological response to a mild stressor. For more information on cold water effects and Dr. Rhonda Patrick, please go to her website.

There are many supporters of cold water, such as Dr. Ben Greenfield, Dr. David Sinclair and others. Wim Hof, a leader in the cold immersion trend, has made a name for himself by climbing snow-capped mountains in his underwear and performing on keynote stages fully submerged in ice. For more information on the Wim Hof Method, visit this link.

I know we will be hearing more about the effects of cold water therapy in the near future, but more research needs to be done to determine if these benefits are supported by science.

Here are my suggestions if you want to ‘test the water’ and try cold water immersion:

 

The Outdoor Swimming Society recommends taking these steps to warm up safely and gradually if you try open water swimming:

 

Perhaps I love a good cold swim because I am just connecting with my Norwegian roots!