The Benefits of Cold Plunging

Thalarctos Maritimus (Ursus maritimus) commonly known as Polar bear swimming under water
Thalarctos Maritimus (Ursus maritimus) commonly known as Polar bear swimming under water

By Pam Levin

The bare thought of it gives me the shivers!!

They say diving, dunking, or dipping in cold water can help heal ailments and encourage longevity. The Japanese and Russian cultures have long espoused this therapeutic treatment for healing. Athletes often take the cold water plunge (hydrotheraphy treatment) after a hard workout or challenging competition.

Heck, there is a famous cold dash called the Polar Bear Plunge whereby devotees take a swim in nearly frozen lake water from October through March when its “down jacket wearing” temperatures outside for many of us. Oftentimes the Polar Bears submit to the frosty dunk to raise money for a worthy charitable cause…yeah!   My question: is there something more profound and medicinal behind the will and the chills for charity or not?

First, let’s take a peek at the background of this seemingly frigid flurry. The history of cold water plunging actually dates back to the Roman and Greek empires. Apparently, many cultures including the Chinese, Indian and Japanese  began using cold water therapy as a modality for healing many years ago.   

So is it all just cold gibberish?

No, not really, But, first, this deep ice dive (or frozen rain shower) is NOT for the timid. And there is a real health risk involved. Don’t just jump in (full body immersion) without first consulting your physician. According to medical experts, those individuals suffering from heart or circulation conditions can put themselves at risk for hypothermia or death by doing the extremely chilly dunk!

However, it turns out that a cold water plunge, or at least alternating hot/cold water showers can, in fact, be very medicinal. How does immersing yourself in cold water actually help your body? Can this cold water splash do more than just shock you and make you drop a few quiet swears while you’re in it?

 Advocates  claim many benefits of this treatment such as reduced muscle inflammation as well as improved cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation. Weight loss (brown fat) has also been cited as a benefit. Proponents also believe cold water immersion can help reset and maintain your leptin level. (Leptin is a hormone your body produces to control your appetite and your weight.) Cold water therapy has also been touted to reduce pain and improve mood.
So the next time, you are feeling a little achy, out of sorts, or feeling sore from the post warrior weekend, consider the cold plunge or at least the cold shower after that deliciously warm one.  You may just discover that icy cold can be just as good (for healing) as steamy hot!

When you’re feeling stressed, don’t sweat it, just chill it! (a sweet Tweetable!)


About the Author:

Pamela Levin is founder and President of Create Amazing Health, LLC and the self branded website . She turns health upside down and on its side by fusing ancient holistic wellness disciplines with cutting edge health ideas. Her academic education includes schooling in engineering and business (MBA-University of Michigan) with additional training from the Deepak Chopra Center in Perfect Health. Her mission is to help others understand and participate in the changing paradigm of health and wellness. She is a thought leader, Huffington Post blogger, motivational speaker and catalyst for health change, determined to inspire others and make (being) healthy FUN! Connect with Pam on Facebook, Twitter, or Soundcloud.



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