A daily cold plunge can be a powerful wellness tool, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t turn up the heat from time to time. In fact, a growing pool of research suggests that doing so may offer valuable benefits for the mind and body.
Why Cold Plunges?
From immunity optimisation to muscle recovery, there are numerous reasons to take regular ice baths. Here’s what happens when you brave the cold:
Your Blood Vessels Constrict – Lactic acid and other chemicals are flushed from your muscles, reducing post-exercise inflammation.
Brown Fat is Activated – White fat is converted into brown fat, prompting energy expenditure and weight loss.
The Vagus Nerve is Stimulated – This signals your body to destress, relax, and build mental resilience.
Dopamine is Released – A quick ice bath is all it takes to help you feel more inspired, energised, and happy.
Your Core Temperature Cools – Cold plunges help to reduce high body temperature from sports or other physical exertion.
- The Immune System is Supported – White and red blood cell counts have been shown to increase in those who are regularly submerged in cold water.
Benefits of Hot Therapy
Hot baths tend to mimic the effects of the frosty variety, though through different mechanisms. When taking a warm dip:
Your Blood Vessels Dilate – By dilating blood vessels, hot baths encourage blood flow to the muscles. This supplies them with vital nutrients and oxygen needed to repair.
You Burn Calories – In a study carried out by Loughborough University, researchers found that an hour-long soak in a hot bath (104F/40C) burned calories equivalent to a brisk 30-minute walk. They attributed this to the rise in body temperature (and therefore metabolic rate) that accompanies a hot bath.
The Nervous System is Relaxed – Using a hot plunge may have as much of an impact on your mental state as exercise, with one study claiming that bathing just twice a week produces a “moderate but persistent” mood lift.
Your Sleep Improves – Vital to a healthy mind is healthy sleep, and hot baths have been shown to induce just that by modulating the circadian rhythm.
Your Blood Pressure Falls – A natural consequence of dilated blood vessels is a drop in blood pressure. This can help slash the risk of heart attack or stroke by as much as 60 percent.
Your Brain Gets a Boost – Hot water immersion has been demonstrated to increase a brain chemical called brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), while simultaneously reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
Benefits of Contrast Therapy
Contrast bath therapy involves a series of alternating immersions in cold and warm water. It may seem like a new craze, but people have been turning to the practice for around 2000 years.
It’s believed that contrasting temperatures improve blood circulation and oxygenation, and in doing so, relieve pain, loosen stiff muscles, and stem inflammation. It can be done with the whole body or just the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, feet, knees, ankles, or lower legs. Proponents have found it particularly helpful in the management of conditions such as foot sprains, ankle sprains, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and soft tissue trauma.
Despite its popularity there’s no single, agreed-upon protocol for contrast therapy. Having said that, here’s a step-by-step process you can follow if you’re looking to give it a go:
Immerse in warm (38°C–40°C) water first for 10 minutes.
Next, immerse in cold (8°C–10°C) water for one minute.
Dip back into hot water for four minutes, alternated with a one minute bath in the cold water.
Repeat the ‘four and one minute’ immersion alternation three more times.
Where Can I Get Hot and Cold Plunges?
Whether you’re interested in the numerous benefits of hot or cold baths, iCoolsport has you covered.
Capable of chilling water to as low as 2°C (35.6F), our range of all-in-one MiPod Chill units are the perfect way to incorporate regular ice baths in your routine.
The best of both worlds can be found in the MiPod Pro Dual Temp Chill & Heat, which combines these heating and cooling technologies in a handy all-in-one solution.