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Top 12 Benefits of Ice Bath & Cold Plunge

Updated: Apr 5

'Why would someone willingly subject himself or herself to the bitter cold?' It may sound uncomfortable, or unusual, but bear with me, as the benefits of ice bath are numerous!

I will go over the top 12 benefits of ice bath that not only have been scientifically measured and tested but also experienced by myself and some others who have been exploring cold immersion wholeheartedly. I have no doubt that everyone reading right now can relate to several of these benefits.

1- Reduced Inflammation: Let’s start with inflammation. When you hear the term 'inflammation', you probably think of a swollen ankle after a sprained joint or the redness around a fresh cut. But inflammation goes deeper than that. It plays a significant role in many diseases like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and even depression. Cold exposure, whether it's from a cold plunge or an ice bath or even cold shower, has been proven to significantly reduce inflammation in the body.

2- Chronic Pain Relief: Our second benefit is related to chronic pain. I'll get into my personal experience with this in a future episode, but I'll say this much now: Regular ice bath has been a game changer for many people. It's a potent, natural painkiller that has been shown to alleviate conditions like Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and arthritis. Read more on the benefits of ice bath for chronic pain.

3- Muscle Recovery: Athletes have long been utilizing ice bath for faster muscle recovery after intense training or competitions. Renowned athletes such as LeBron James, Christiano Ronaldo, and Novak Djokovic have embraced this practice for years as they leverage the benefits of ice bath for their recovery and mental resilience. I personally see much better recovery after a workout when I do a quick ice bath. There is an argument however that ice bath right after weight lifting may slightly inhibit muscle growth. I have personally not seen any practical evidence but if you are looking for increasing your muscle volume and you are concerned, you can leave a few hours after workout before you get in the ice bath.

4- Enhanced Immune Response: Did you know that ice bath can have a profound impact on our immune system? Studies have revealed that subjecting ourselves to the cold can enhance the production of white blood cells, bolstering our body's defense against infections and diseases. By incorporating regular ice bath into our routines, we may experience fewer bouts of illness and enjoy a fortified immune response. I have been enjoying this benefit of ice bath for years and truly do not remember last time I got sick but that can also be credited towards good nutrition and meditation! Read more

5- Increased Energy: Really, feeling sluggish and in need of an energy boost? Believe me, look no further than an ice bath. When we expose ourselves to cold temperatures, our adrenal glands are stimulated, resulting in the production of epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones play a pivotal role in increasing energy levels and overall alertness. Imagine starting your day with a quick dip in cold water, or taking a cold shower awakening your body's natural energy resources. The minimum I do every morning is splashing my face with cold water before I do anything else. Some afternoons if I am working from home I feel a bit sluggish, I do a 5 to 10 minutes cold plunge and it’s like I am starting the day again! Do not underestimate this benefit of ice bath.

6- Activation & Increase of Brown Fat: let’s talk about brown fat. Did you know that our bodies contain two types of fat: white fat and brown fat? While white fat stores excess energy, brown fat generates heat by burning calories. Cold Plunge has the incredible ability to activate and increase the amount of brown fat in our bodies, leading to improved metabolism, increased insulin sensitivity, and potentially weight loss. Read more on the benefits of ice bath for weight loss.

7- Lowered Blood Pressure: Several studies have also shown that regular ice bath can help lower blood pressure. The extreme contraction and expansion of blood vessels during the process appears to be the mechanism that does it.

8- Beat Depression and improve mood: Another befit of ice bath is creating s sense of well being and overcoming depression. Measurements have shown after a cold plunge, we get a boost of dopamine and endorphin which improvs mood, bring happiness and lowers any feeling of depression. In another video I will discuss the method that I personally use to gain as much mental and psychological lift as I can from cold plunging and if I am truly honest this is one of the main reasons that I do ice bath regularly. You can call it my dopamine addiction but I rather to be addicted to this form of dopamine production than any other. Read more

9- Willpower: No doubt that embracing the cold requires willpower. The consistent practice strengthens not just our physical resilience but also our mental toughness and discipline. Before I start doing serious cold immersions, I always thought I had a very strong will power. Then I realized, there was room for improvement. There are days that you don’t feel getting in cold water but you still do it… that strengthens and takes the will power and discipline to a different level. This is probably the key benefit of ice bath that helped me in overcoming problems in my day to day business dealings.

10- Combating Addiction: The mental toughness developed through practicing ice bath can also help fight addiction. The discipline and endurance gained by braving the cold increases our pain threshold, making the physical and mental discomfort of withdrawal more manageable. Also a part of the dopamine that used to come through the addictive substance or behavior can come through cold exposure again alleviating the feeling of depression due to withdrawal. Again I have seen people using ice bath as their main tool and obviously in combination with other efforts to beat their addiction.

11- Improving Sleep: Another benefit of ice bath is the rush of adrenaline and cortisol during a cold plunge session depletes the cortisol level in the body, creating a conducive environment for falling asleep later at night. However I do not recommend it right before bedtime as the adrenaline levels can remain high for a few hours. I have experienced if I am doing it late evening it is better to end with warm like taking a warm shower, to get better sleep. But we will discuss the subject of ending with cold or warm and when to do one or the other in another day.

12- Autonomic Nervous System or ANS: ice bath also offers us an opportunity to learn to influence our ANS, which usually operates beyond our conscious control. Normally our ANS works automatically without any interference from us. However it has been proven over and over that human is capable of influencing the Autonomous nerves System through the power of mind, meditation and focus; accessing the subconscious levels. I do use cold as a way to teach myself to influence my ANS which I will share with you in the future.

Ok, that's a lot of benefits for ice bath! But it's important to remember that like any new health practice, it's essential to approach cold therapy with caution. Everyone's body is different, so listen to yours and always consult with a healthcare professional especially if you have any pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure.

Remember, the purpose of practicing ice bath is not to suffer, but to challenge ourselves, to build resilience, and to unlock a wealth of physical and mental benefits.

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