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Home/Blog/Benefits of a Cold Plunge and How to Do It Safely

Benefits of a Cold Plunge and How to Do It Safely

By Joe Boland

February 7, 2024

Cold plunge benefits

Jumping into ice cold water probably doesn’t sound all that appealing to the average person out there, but did you know that going for a cold plunge can actually offer a plethora of benefits for your health? It’s true.

In fact, cold plunging can be part of your winter wellness plan to help your muscles recover, provide energy and support several areas of the body. Of course, you want to take the proper precautions when dealing with cold temperatures.

As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including cold plunging. 

What Is a Cold Plunge?

A cold plunge refers to immersing oneself in cold water, typically for a short duration. This practice is often used for various health and wellness benefits. Cold plunges can take different forms, including cold showers, ice baths, or natural bodies of cold water like lakes or rivers. 

It typically involves a cold plunge tub that is purchased for the home, usually placed outdoors. Technically, a cold plunge tub is different than an ice bath. While both involve immersing the body in cold water, the water in a cold plunge tub is cooled by a chiller or refrigerator unit rather than filled with ice. The user can set the temperature of the water to the exact degree they desire. In addition, a cold plunge tub keeps water constantly flowing and uses a filtration system to ensure the water remains clean.

Cold exposure is believed to have several potential advantages, such as:

  • Improved circulation: Cold water immersion can stimulate blood flow and improve circulation.

  • Enhanced recovery: Some people use cold plunges as part of their recovery routines after intense physical activities.

  • Increased alertness and energy: Cold water exposure is known to trigger increased alertness and a feeling of heightened energy.

It's important to note that while many people find cold plunges invigorating and beneficial, individuals with certain health conditions should exercise caution. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating cold exposure into your routine, especially if you have cardiovascular issues or other medical concerns.

Benefits

1. Circulation

Cold water immersion can help stimulate blood flow and enhance circulation. This can be beneficial to overall health since blood flow is crucial to all aspects of the body.

2. Muscle Recovery

In addition to taking muscle recovery supplements — such as Multi Collagen Advanced Muscle — athletes and fitness enthusiasts often use cold plunges as part of their recovery routine to help speed up the recovery process after intense physical activity.

Cold exposure is believed to help alleviate muscle discomfort, making it popular among athletes for post-exercise recovery.

3. Increased Alertness and Energy

Cold exposure triggers increased alertness and a feeling of heightened energy. This is due to the way cold can positively affect the release of certain hormones.

4. Improved Outlook

Cold water immersion has been associated with an improved outlook and a sense of well-being due to the way it can positively affect hormones. This can help calm the mind and boost one’s outlook.

5. Sleep

Since it's believed to calm the mind and help with improving one’s outlook, a cold plunge may lead to improved sleep, according to research.

In addition, cold plunging may have beneficial effects on burning calories, supporting skin and hair health, and even encouraging a healthy response to inflammation.

It's important to approach cold plunges with caution, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating cold exposure into your routine. 

Additionally, gradual exposure and proper technique are recommended to minimize potential risks.

How to Do It Safely

Practicing cold plunging safely involves gradual exposure, proper technique and consideration of individual health status. Here are some guidelines to help you incorporate cold plunging into your routine safely:

1. Consult with a Healthcare Professional

Before starting cold plunges, especially if you have underlying health conditions, consult with a healthcare provider to ensure it's safe for you.

2. Start Gradually

If you're new to cold plunges, start with shorter durations and less intense cold. Begin with cold showers or water at a moderate temperature before progressing to ice baths or colder environments.

3. Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to your body's signals. If you experience discomfort of any kind, exit the cold water immediately.

4. Choose the Right Location

If using natural bodies of water, make sure the location is safe and free from hazards. Avoid strong currents and be aware of the water temperature, especially in colder seasons.

5. Proper Breathing Techniques

Focus on controlled breathing during cold exposure. Deep, slow breaths can help manage the initial shock to the system and promote relaxation.

6. Warm Up Beforehand

Engage in light physical activity or a warm shower before a cold plunge to increase blood flow and prepare your body for the change in temperature.

7. Gradually Increase Exposure Time

As your body adapts, you can gradually increase the duration of your cold plunges. This gradual progression allows your body to acclimate to the cold over time.

8. Stay Hydrated

Cold exposure can increase the body's need for hydration, so ensure you are adequately hydrated before and after a cold plunge.

9. Dress Appropriately

Wear appropriate clothing to maintain warmth before and after the cold exposure. Consider using a hat or covering for your extremities to prevent excessive heat loss.

10. Post-Plunge Warm-Up

After a cold plunge, warm up gradually by dressing in warm layers and engaging in light physical activity to help restore normal body temperature.

11. Know Your Limits

Cold plunging may not be suitable for everyone. If you have certain medical conditions, such as heart problems or respiratory issues, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating cold exposure into your routine.

In addition, staying in cold water for too long can put you at risk for hypothermia and other issues, and certain people — like women who are pregnant, the elderly and those hypersensitive to cold — should avoid cold plunging without consulting with their healthcare providers first.

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