Could cold water be the fountain of youth? Increasingly, research studies are proving that cold water therapy has a host of benefits, from reducing stress to burning fat, improving mood, boosting the immune system, giving you a more youthful appearance and generally prolonging life.
Therapeutic hypothermia — the cooling of the body for therapeutic purposes — has been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans used cold water to bring down fevers. Hippocrates prescribed snow and ice to stop bleeding. Tortuous icy baths were once used to “treat” people in psychiatric facilities. Cold showers have long been promoted to cool passionate urges.
A healthy shock to the system
Today, spas tout the benefits of cold-water plunges, polar bear dips are a popular annual rite and cold-water swimming has become all the rage thanks in great part to self-described “Iceman” Wim Hof, who set a Guinness World Record for swimming under ice. His Wim Hof Method has tens of thousands of followers around the world.
An increasingly popular practice is whole body cryotherapy, which involves exposure for 3-5 minutes to sub-zero temperatures in a sealed chamber. Some professional athletes and celebrities swear by it. While the Nordic nations have long endorsed the benefits of cold water for giving the body a healthy shock to the system.
Well aware of the benefits of cold-water immersion, every morning, Fountain Life co-founder Tony Robbins wakes up and plunges into a 57-degree Fahrenheit pool of water. Cold water immersion activates the body’s natural healing powers that can relieve the symptoms of many medical conditions and promote a sense of health and well-being.
Could exposing yourself to icy temperatures be one of the secrets to longevity?
Here are 7 anti-aging benefits to cold therapy:
1. Boosts the immune system
There’s evidence that cold water can stimulate the body’s immune system, which helps fight illness. A Dutch study with 3,000 participants found that people who took a daily cold shower (following a warm shower) of either 30 seconds, 60 seconds or 90 seconds for one month were off work with self-reported sickness 29% less than those who had a warm shower only.
2. Improves blood circulation
Our bodies turn pink when we get cold because blood vessels are restricted, and blood flow increases to warm our core and protect the vital organs. This stimulation of blood flow promotes increased circulation which causes the lymphatic vessels to contract and help flush out toxins that can promote cellular damage and premature aging.
3. Makes you happier
Taking a cold plunge has psychological benefits because it reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and releases feel-good endorphins. A widely reported 2007 study found cold showers were effective at alleviating the symptoms of depression, without any negative side effects.
4. Relieves pain
As we get older muscle and joint pain, such as arthritis, is a common problem that can inhibit our daily activities. Using ice packs on injured muscles increases blood circulation, which aids healing and pain relief. A 2017 study found that cold water immersion was effective for relieving muscle pain.
5. Promotes weight loss
Exercising in the cold burns more calories than exercising in warmer temperatures, making it easier to lose weight. A 2017 study of men and women who hiked when the temperature hovered between 23°F and -14°F, burned 34 percent more calories than they did while hiking on days when the temperature was above 50°F.
Even cold showers may help with weight loss since the cold activates levels of brown adipose tissue, which helps burn calories.
6. Prevents dementia
Researchers have made the link between whole-body cryotherapy and its possible effectiveness in preventing age-related cognitive decline. The cold-water treatment may play a role in fighting the inflammatory and oxidative stress responses that can create memory loss.
7. Reduces signs of aging
Cold water is good for the skin, the largest organ in the body. Hot waterstrips away essential oils that make the skin look younger, whereas cold water tightens the pores and the cuticle layer which can help skin look shinier,resulting in that much sought-after youthful glow.
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