You may have already tried the cold water craze that has sparked quite an interest in the fitness and wellness industry. Perhaps it started as an invigorating cold shower for a few minutes to wake up or the one-time ALS challenge of dumping an ice bucket over your head on Facebook. Either way, for time immemorial people have enjoyed jumping into cold water and thus there have always been reasons about why a cold water immersion can be good for you. Since Signature Fitness has heard our client’s request and is now investing in making their dreams come true with an upscale recovery lounge replete with cold plunge tubs, clients can soon find out for themselves. In the meantime, we’re doing the research to see exactly what the benefits of a cold plunge are.
One can already surmise from experiential participation that cold plunging feels amazing. Not when first submerged of course, but once you acclimate and certainly afterwards, there’s a feeling of invigoration and vitality. You feel motivated, ready, and alive. It’s even risen in popularity as a community event. There are a group of cold plungers, called the Puget Sound Plungers, who meet on Seattle beach weekly to jump into the Pacific Ocean. They claim to have “discovered the magic of cold water immersion that heals and revitalizes their physical and mental health”. Cold plunge groups such as this one have popped up around the world at public cold water locations.
Scientists and researchers who have been studying how the human body is affected by the cold have concluded that more research needs to be done about cold water immersion benefits. In studies so far, the water temperature, duration of immersion, and types of exposure vary so there aren’t consistent results despite the beneficial claims made on cold plunge advertisements and social media. What researchers have been able to gather about cold plunges, through numerous studies, is enough though to inspire a cold plunge. Researchers have gathered enough evidence to claim the following as benefits of cold plunging:
Increased Motivation – One study has shown that a cold plunge at 57 degrees Fahrenheit caused a 250% increase in dopamine levels which may be why one feels so good after a plunge. Some people have claimed that once submerged for a period of time your body acclimates to the cold and it’s possible to stay a bit longer to reap the benefits of the increased dopamine that can last for days.
Improved Mood – Cold plunging can affect our blood sugar level. Science has proven that our blood sugar levels affect our mood. High blood sugar levels can cause mood swings, depression, and acting out. Continual and acute cold plunging can improve insulin sensitivity by lowering our blood sugar.
Reduce Inflammation – Cold plunging after a workout can reduce the degree of exercise-induced muscle damage. This in turn reduces the amount of inflammation and soreness, restoring the body for optimal performance.
Weight Loss – Some studies have shown slight weight loss with cold plunging due to the increase of our metabolic rate when in the cold. The body has to increase our internal furnace when submerged in cold water to survive. This in turn increases our metabolism. However, long term weight loss has not been substantiated in research.
There are some precautions one should take before taking the plunge. Get your physicians ok if you already have a weakened immune system or any heart conditions. Be sure to plunge after a good night’s rest and not after a night of partying, and use your own good judgment about how long to stay submerged. Everyone’s physical condition is unique and can handle varying doses of cold water submersion. Conclusively, cold plunging sounds like it’s worth giving a try and see how you enjoy the benefits.