Although sitting in cold water for anywhere from 2-15 minutes sounds uncomfortable, or even painful, cold water therapy has many benefits for the mind and body. The benefits listed here are the three most talked about, but there are many more possible benefits of taking a cold plunge.
Benefit #1: Reduces Inflammation and Pain
One of the most well-known benefits of cold water therapy is its ability to reduce swelling and ease pain. The scientific explanation behind this is that cold water causes your blood vessels to constrict and reduces blood flow to the surface of your skin. This process is called vasoconstriction and can help reduce inflammation and pain in the affected areas. Vasoconstriction may improve the rate at which your muscles become reoxygenated, which means less soreness and quicker recovery time between workouts.
Your muscles can become inflamed and sore after a tough workout which can make everyday tasks seem difficult. Think about getting up from a chair or walking upstairs the morning after an intense leg workout – ouch! By immersing your body in cold water, you can reduce inflammation and relieve some of the muscle soreness. Cold water therapy can also help improve your range of motion and flexibility.
Benefit #2: Boosts Your Immune System
Cold water therapy encourages your immune system to activate. When you immerse your body in cold water, a process called thermogenesis occurs. This process involves the body producing heat in response to cold water, which can trigger the immune system to turn on. Thermogenesis may also trigger your metabolism which could lead to other benefits.
When your immune system is ramped up, it produces more white blood cells which help to fight off infections and disease. Cold water therapy can also help improve circulation throughout the body which can further boost the immune system. Making cold water therapy part of your health and wellness routine may help improve your overall health and reduce your chances of developing illnesses.
Benefit #3: Improves Mental Health
Cold water therapy can have many physical benefits, but it can also positively impact your mental health. Immersing your body in cold water causes the “flight or fight” response to be activated. This response can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as improve overall mood.
Cold water therapy can also help reduce stress levels in the body. When you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol which can have negative effects on your physical and mental health. Immersing yourself in cold water reduces cortisol levels which can lessen feelings of stress and anxiety.
Cold water therapy also forces your body to go into a state of heightened alertness. Being in this state can help to sharpen your focus and improve cognitive function. Past research reveals that submerging your body in cold water increases dopamine concentrations by 250 percent. Dopamine is known as the “feel-good” hormone because of the key role it plays in regulating mood, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Is Cold Water Therapy For You?
Cold water therapy has many benefits for the mind and body. From reducing inflammation and pain to boosting the immune system and improving mental health, there are many reasons to consider incorporating cold water therapy into your health and wellness routine.
If you decide to take the plunge (pun intended), you should start slow. Only stay in the water for 1-2 minutes and keep the temperature on the mild side, 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you get used to the temperature, slowly decrease the water temperature it while slowly increasing the time spent in the water.
After taking a cold bath, let your body warm up naturally. You may want to go for a short walk or enjoy a warm beverage after a cold bath, but letting your body regulate its temperature on its own is beneficial to your body.
10X Health has created an innovative, iceless cold plunge tub that can cool water to 37℉ or heat water to 107℉ for use as a hot tub. The tub is portable, and the cooling/heating process takes under three hours. Reach out to 10X Health today for all your questions about the benefits of cold plunges!