Ice baths and immune health aren’t exactly the most obvious pairing. After all, it’s often thought that exposure to frosty temperatures leaves you prone to colds, flus, and all manner of other diseases.
Thankfully, a growing pool of research suggests quite the opposite. In fact, regular cold immersion has shown to be one of the best ways to optimise your immunity and stave off sickness.
How Ice Baths Affect Immunity - the Science
One oft-cited 2016 study aimed to determine just that. It did so by asking thousands of people to swap their hot showers to cold for a one-month period. During this time the participants also reported all sickness-related absenteeism to the researchers.
They found that those who switched to cold showers required 29% less sick leave than the control group. While not necessarily implying fewer total days spent with illness, it did draw a parallel between cold immersion and milder symptoms.
Similar studies affirm this connection, one of the most compelling being “Effect of winter swimming on haematological parameters”. This experiment saw a significant increase in red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets among athletes after swimming in icy water. It said that even brief plunges “…induces strong non-pathological modifications of haematological homeostasis”.
Further evidence comes from a 2014 Dutch study, which sought to discover whether people could voluntarily regulate their immune response through meditation, deep breathing, and cold water immersion. It demonstrated that these practices can indeed lead to increased production of anti-inflammatory mediators and dampening of the proinflammatory cytokine response. In discussing its significance, researchers said: “This study could have important implications for the treatment of a variety of conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation, especially autoimmune diseases…”.
Finally, as a complete review of ‘hydrotherapy’, 2014’s “Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body” provides unparalleled insight into the broader effects of cold exposure. Among a myriad of other benefits, it states that “… daily brief cold-water stress over many months could enhance antitumor immunity and improve nonlymphoid cancer survival rate.” A bold claim, but one upheld with a growing body of scientific literature.
How to Optimise Your Immunity with Ice Baths
Some of the studies above used water as cold as six degrees celsius (around 42 fahrenheit). While it’s unlikely you’ll need to brave temperatures as frosty as that to support your immune health long-term, what you will need is a safe and reliable way to consistently chill water. That’s where iCoolsport comes in.
As the inventor and largest supplier of ice baths, we stock a range of products perfect for cold plunge beginners and veterans alike. If you’re interested in its immune-supporting properties, we recommend taking advantage of our innovative Compact Cool chiller coupled with the inflatable IceOne Bath.
Easy to use and with class-leading design, they’re perfect for regularly building your resilience to the cold. Simply set your desired temperature with the digital controls and start enjoying all the benefits of cold immersion.
For newcomers, we recommend you take the plunge in water of at least 15 degrees celsius (59 fahrenheit) a few times a week. As your body adapts, you can gradually lower the temperature and up the frequency. This slow and steady approach will help you acclimatise to the practice, and soon you’ll find yourself conquering water colder than you ever thought possible. Regardless of your experience, it’s not recommended that you exceed temperatures lower than three degrees celsius (37.4 fahrenheit), or durations longer than 15 minutes.