I stand there, staring at the cold water, trying to pump myself to take the first step in. I like to give a nice yell before getting in the water, like Johnny Drama before he does an audition.
I have a podcast playing and the timer is set on my phone and all I have to do is press start.
With a deep breath, I press start, and I take the first step into the freezing pool. Some people like to jump in, but I’m not that crazy. I have to step in and then slowly submerge myself under the water to cover my entire body.
Instantly, my body is fighting against the cold, and for a moment, I go into a weird state of mind giving up full control to the water. But once I’m fully in for about 15-20 seconds, amidst the shock, I find a strange kind of focus.
After about 5-8 min, depending on how cold the water is that day, I slowly walk up the steps of the pool, wrap myself in a towel and smile with a sense of accomplishment.
The discomfort morphs into a feeling of strength. As I walk away, shivering but grinning, I know I have overcome my ‘inner bitch’, as Joe Rogan likes to say. VICTORYYYYYYYYYY
The human body has an incredible ability to adapt and respond to various stimuli, including exposure to cold temperatures. Cold exposure, whether through cold showers, ice baths, or outdoor activities in chilly conditions, offers a multitude of health benefits that extend beyond the initial discomfort. Embracing the cold can significantly impact physical, mental, and even emotional well-being.
Dr. Susanna Soberg: How to Use Cold & Heat Exposure to Improve Your Health | Huberman Lab Podcast
1. Enhanced Immune Function:
Cold exposure has been linked to improvements in immune function. Exposure to cold temperatures can stimulate the production of white blood cells and boost the body's defense mechanisms against illnesses.
2. Increased Metabolic Rate and Fat Loss:
Cold exposure activates brown fat, a type of fat that burns calories to generate heat. This process, known as thermogenesis, can help increase metabolic rate and aid in weight loss.
3. Improved Circulation and Cardiovascular Health:
Cold exposure can promote better circulation by constricting blood vessels and then dilating them upon rewarming. This process helps improve cardiovascular health by enhancing blood flow and reducing inflammation.
4. Heightened Mental Alertness and Resilience:
Exposure to cold triggers the release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, which can improve mood, increase focus, and enhance mental resilience. It's often associated with an increased sense of alertness and well-being.
5. Stress Reduction and Improved Stress Response:
Cold exposure is a form of stress, and by subjecting the body to controlled stressors, it can help the body adapt and respond more effectively to stress in general. Over time, this can lead to better stress management.
How to Incorporate a Beneficial Cold Exposure Protocol:
1. Start Gradually:
Begin by incorporating short cold exposures, like ending your regular shower with 30 seconds of cold water. Slowly increase the duration as your body adapts.
2. Cold Water Immersion:
Consider occasional cold water immersion or ice baths. Start with shorter durations (e.g., 1-3 minutes) and gradually increase the time as you become more accustomed.
3. Outdoor Cold Exposure:
Engage in outdoor activities during colder weather, such as walking or hiking in cooler temperatures. Ensure proper clothing to avoid overexposure and frostbite.
4. Consistency is Key:
Consistency is crucial in reaping the benefits of cold exposure. Aim for regular sessions rather than occasional exposure to maximize its effects.
5. Listen to Your Body:
Pay attention to how your body responds. Discontinue if you experience prolonged discomfort or any adverse effects. It's essential to find a balance and not overexert yourself.
6. Combine With Breathing or Meditation:
Incorporate deep breathing or meditation techniques during cold exposure sessions to help manage the body's stress response and enhance relaxation.
Cold exposure might seem intimidating at first, but its potential health benefits are undeniable. Incorporating controlled cold exposure into your routine can lead to a range of positive effects on both physical and mental well-being. However, it's crucial to approach it gradually, listen to your body, and be consistent to reap the full advantages of this powerful practice. Whether it's a cold shower or a winter walk, embracing the cold can be a transformative addition to your health and wellness regimen.
Get After It!