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Take A Cold Plunge – Renew Your Health

Written by: Lisa Charles, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Putting your body in cold water at temperatures you usually try to avoid at all costs can be daunting. Many people interested in taking a cold plunge let fear and trepidation prevent them from moving forward on their desire. I was no different. But despite my hesitancy, I decided to take the plunge and allow my body to experience the numerous health benefits of cold immersion. I am now an avid cold plunger.

swimming pool with ice

What Is It?


Cold plunging involves immersing yourself in frigid water. Often the water temperature can be anywhere from 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the water temperature, you can stay submerged up to your neck anywhere from 30 seconds to five-plus minutes, and you can repeat this process 5 – 7 days a week. The colder the water, the shorter your duration. Ice baths, cold showers, and open-water outdoor swims are all common ways to experience the benefits of a cold plunge. Athletes often use cold water therapy following an intense workout to help speed up muscle recovery and reduce discomfort and soreness. The key is to keep breathing and find a sense of calm and relaxation even in the face of cold temperatures. With consistency and the proper focused mindset, finding calm becomes easier.


Why Do It?


There are multiple reasons why taking a cold plunge can benefit your health, and numerous scientific studies support this practice.


Cold Plunge Reduces Inflammation and Builds Immunity


Inflammation Affect


Chronic Inflammation is the body's response to external stress and can be a precursor to disease while causing a loss of performance, recovery, immunity, sleep, and joint mobility. An immune system overstimulated by chronic Inflammation can attack its cells, leading to coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's. Taking a cold plunge can aid in reducing Inflammation within the body, potentially improving health outcomes.


Cold water restricts blood vessels and lowers your muscle tissues' temperature, helping combat Inflammation. Localized blood flow means less swelling in damaged areas. Less Inflammation also means you're less likely to have (DOMS) delayed-onset muscle soreness after physical activity.


Immunity Affect


Cold plunging also boosts immunity by stimulating the leukocytes, the white blood cells, and natural killer (NK) cells, which fight infection and protect against disease and sickness. It also aids in the body's detox by causing the lymphatic system to contract, forcing fluid through the lymph nodes. A study in The Netherlands showed that people who showered for up to 90 seconds of cold water after a warm shower for 30 days called in sick from work less than people who showered at their average/normal temperature. Better immunity equals fewer sick days.


Cold Plunge Reduces Stress – Boosts Your Mood – Restores Sleep


Stress Reducer


Cold water therapy is an effective treatment for stress relief. Consistent cold showers and ice baths can reduce anxiety and improve mood by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.


Cold water immersion slows your heart rate and directs blood flow to your brain. It also stimulates your vagus nerve that runs from your skull, down your neck, through your thorax, and into your abdomen, touching almost every organ it passes, helping to regulate your nervous system. Switching from your nervous system's sympathetic mode, or "fight or flight," to your parasympathetic mode—known as the "rest and digest," your vagus nerve can help usher in a calm state.


According to the Mental Heal Centre of America, cold plunging causes the body to produce hermetic stress, which is "good stress" because it will release genetic pathways to help control life stressors. Increased stress regulation lowers your body's sensitivity to stress and makes you more tolerant of anxiety.


Mood Enhancer


One study published in 2021 in Lifestyle Medicine found that swimming in cold water improved participants' moods. I can state with certainty that cold plunging sends me into a profound state of calm and happiness. When I come out of the water, I feel euphoric, which lasts the whole day.


While researchers are still figuring out exactly how cold-water lifts mood, neuroscientist Andrew Huberman has a theory: He suspects that cold exposure releases dopamine. This "feel-good" hormone boosts mood, energy, and focus.


Also, as you take your cold plunge, the production of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine hormones increases. These hormones boost your focus, attention, vigilance, and mood. You will feel calm and happy and avoid mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety.


Sleep Restorer


Many people struggle with getting enough sleep. Some have disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy, which can make sleep elusive.


Research suggests that cold plunges can improve sleep quality. Taking cold therapy just before bed dramatically lowers your body temperature. According to studies, your body responds by producing chemicals like melatonin that trigger sleep.


The pineal gland produces melatonin at night to act as a time cue to the biological clock and enhance sleep anticipation in your brain. More of the hormone due to cold plunges will increase your propensity to sleep, whether you have circadian rhythm sleep disorders or insomnia from old age.


Cold Plunge Boosts Metabolism Rate - Body Detox and Weight Loss


Metabolism plays three leading roles in the body:

  • Converts the energy in food to energy available to run cellular processes.

  • Converts food into building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates.

  • Removes toxic metabolic wastes.

Going into the cold water for the first time brings cold shock, causing hyper insulation. Part of your brain, the Hypothalamus, will send signals to your body to increase heat production. According to metabolism scientist Dr. Sussana Sodberg, doing 11 minutes of cold plunge per week lowers insulin production and increases the metabolism rate.


When you take a cold plunge, you activate the brown fat tissue in the body. That tissue keeps the body warm and controls blood sugar and insulin levels. Therefore, cold plunging can help you lose weight and remove waste products from the body.


How does it happen?


Weight Loss


Exposure to cold forces your body to rev up its metabolism to get the energy it needs for heat generation. When the body increasingly burns the white fat, basically known as "bad fat," cold plunging can result in weight loss. A study revealed that taking a cold plunge in 140c/57F water increases the metabolism rate by 350% as every part of the body that uses energy starts burning up the "bad fat."


In effect, cold plunging pushes Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) deposits into calorie-burning heat generation for an average of 32.5% higher than the standard metabolic rate. When this happens, BAT increases glucose and lipid uptake. Therefore, when you want to burn some calories, you won't do any injustice by cold plunging.


Body Detox through Increased Lymphatic Drainage


The lymphatic system is a collection of vessels in your body that eliminate toxins from your cells and transport waste bacteria. In simple terms, lymphatic drainage removes garbage and unwanted substances from the body. A malfunctioning lymphatic system may increase the risk of colds, infections, achy joints, build-up of toxins, etc.


Your body relies on activities and exercises to keep the lymphatic system circulating. By taking cold water immersion, your muscles contract, thereby boosting your lymphatic system. With muscle contraction, lymphatic drainage will be able to get rid of waste products from the body.


Overall, taking a cold plunge has exceptional health benefits. According to Brock Cannon, a certified Wim Hof Method instructor and Director of Kensho, Florida’s first breathwork and cold plunge-focused studio, “… cold exposure recharges your nervous system and brain, increasing adrenaline, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which help boost mood.”


It is a mental health booster with countless health-enhancing implications. So whether you have health issues or are doing it purely for your well-being, you stand to benefit from the ways discussed in this article.


The question is, when will you try a cold-water emersion? Maybe it is the right tool to body detox and reduce your stress levels. You won’t know until you try.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Lisa Charles, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lisa Charles is a federal prosecutor turned singer/actress, wellness expert, certified health coach/consultant, and speaker. She served as the Fitness/Wellness Research Coordinator for the Rutgers University Aging & Brain Health Alliance, is the CEO of Embrace Your Fitness, LLC, and is the Author of Yes! Commit. Do. Live.


She successfully directed her struggle with temporary vocal loss into personal growth by shedding 77 pounds without dieting. This ignited her zeal for fitness, cemented her understanding of the brain-body connection, and prompted her to delve into the process of creating a life based on passion.


Today, as a Brain, Body, and Belief Alignment Specialist, Lisa empowers individuals to let go of their limiting beliefs, embrace who they are, and break through any age-limiting barriers, by allowing them to experience wellness from her top/down, inside/out approach.


Be prepared to experience the Age Defying Life and release stress, renew energy, restore sleep, and gain the mental clarity to live the life of your dreams.

Her strategies center on transformational techniques within and outside the Fitness industry that produces tangible, lasting results.


For healthy tips and free downloads and to join Lisa’s email list, visit: www.YesCoachLisa.com



Lisa Charles Documentary – a Bayer Mack Production: https://vimeo.com/530120544


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