During the winter months we usually want to stay inside, snuggle by a cozy fireplace, and drink hot cocoa.
And we love to blame the cold weather for our illnesses, which is why we call it “flu season.”
But what if staying inside is
what’s actually causing us to get sick?
Cold immersion therapy is becoming increasingly popular among the health and wellness community because of the numerous studies proving it’s benefits. However, before it became “trendy” it was used by many ancient cultures as a form of medicine and before these ancient cultures realized it could be used as medicine, our paleolithic ancestors were already practicing this! I mean they didn’t have the water or heating systems we have in place now so they had to bathe in cold water and walk outside in the cold.
What is cold immersion therapy?
The two main forms of cold immersion therapy are hydrotherapy and cold thermogenesis.
This is a type of medicine that uses hot and cold water applications to reverse, treat, and prevent disease. As I stated earlier, it is one of the oldest therapies. However, it was recently rediscovered by Sebastian Kneipp in 1849 and the modern day studies are a result of his findings.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy
- Enhances circulation
- Supports detoxification
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves mood
- Speeds up muscle recovery
Ways of practicing Hydrotherapy:
- Brief applications of cold water: one second to one minute
- Contrast showers: normal shower ending with 30 seconds of extreme hot (as hot as you can handle) and then 30 seconds of as cold as the water can get. (I do this every single day and I notice a huge difference in my sinuses when I don’t do this.)
- Ice baths: fill tub with ice and water for 6-8 minutes
- Polar plunge: Jump in a cold, clean body of water (Cliff jumping is one of my favorite activities!)
Remember when we learned that mammals are warm-blooded in elementary school? Well that’s really all thermogenesis is confirming. It’s our body’s way of producing heat to keep us warm. This increases metabolism and brown fat while stimulating burning of white fat. White fat is the type of fat most of us are familiar with and the type of fat that is in excess for the average person in the United States today. Brown fat is a good thing. Brown fat has high levels of iron which is how it helps keep us warm when our environment is cold.
Benefits of Cold Thermogenesis
- Strengthens immune system
- Decreases brain degeneration
- Aids with fat loss
- Improves muscle recovery
- Augments mood
Ways of practicing Cold Thermogenesis:
- Get outside: Just 15 minutes getting some fresh air can make a huge difference (I’m a huge fan of sunrise yoga flows, winter hikes, and snowball fights!)
- Keep your window cracked open: Keep the fresh air circulating and get the dead air out (My window stays open year round)
- Cryotherapy: Just 3 minutes of intense cold
- Hydrotherapy: (Discussed above)
Because cold immersion therapy has so many benefits, it is definitely included in my Holistic Fat Loss Program starting in January. If you’re interested in this program, register here!
Don’t get me wrong, I love snuggling in my blanket by the fireplace and drinking hot cocoa (specifically this saffron hot cocoa I made the other day… #HEAVEN)…
But it’s so important to keep our immune systems strong and adapt with the changes instead of trying to resist them.
Moral of the story? Bundle up and get outside this winter; play with your kids and explore all that’s out there in this Winter Wonderland!
If you’d like to learn other ways to improve your quality of life, schedule a complimentary consult with me to see if we can work together to help you achieve great health!
1. Betz, M., Enerbäck, S. Targeting thermogenesis in brown fat and muscle to treat obesity and metabolic disease. Nat Rev Endocrinol 14, 77–87 (2018) doi:10.1038/nrendo.2017.132
2. Buijze, G. A., Sierevelt, I. N., van der Heijden, B. C., Dijkgraaf, M. G., & Frings-Dresen, M. H. (2016). The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PloS one, 11(9), e0161749. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161749
3. Mooventhan, A., & Nivethitha, L. (2014). Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body. North American journal of medical sciences, 6(5), 199–209. doi:10.4103/1947-2714.132935
4. Cory L. Butts, Brendon P. McDermott, Brian J. Buening, Jeffrey A. Bonacci, Matthew S. Ganio, J. D. Adams, Matthew A. Tucker, and Stavros A. Kavouras Journal of Athletic Training 2016 51:3, 252-257