Cold Exposure Training – A Guide
Cold exposure is one of the oldest and most efficient ways to improve one’s health. It has been practiced for centuries and is gaining popularity in the Western world. Celebrities support the practice, but Navy SEALS do so more persuasively. There are several methods to employ cold exposure, and we will teach you how to begin with cold showers and progress to total body immersion in open cold water or ice baths in this article.
So, first and foremost, how cold is cold? Cold exposure must be unpleasant to provide any advantages. You will actually have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. The good news is that it only lasts a few minutes if you take a cold shower or soak in an ice bath. Another advantage is that if you do it regularly, you will become accustomed to the chilly temperature and be able to withstand it more efficiently and for a more extended period of time.
Because it is difficult to judge the shower temperature, you must go with your gut instinct. Set the temperature as low as possible so that you have the impulse to crank the heat up or plunge back into your warm, comfortable bed but can safely stay under the chilly water. Remember why you’re doing it and the advantages you’ll receive, including a sense of success in overcoming your fear of feeling uncomfortable.
When adding ice to a home ice bath, keep it below 16°C, preferably between five and 10 degrees centigrade. If you “like” cold exposure, you should consider purchasing a commercial ice bath. These are insulated and can withstand temperatures as low as 0° Celsius. These, however, are not cheap, with costs ranging into hundreds of dollars.
Use a wheelie bin or an old freezer as a cold-water tank only if you are willing to replace the water and ice after each use. This is because it will serve as a breeding environment for germs and algae, both of which can make you sick, which is the inverse of the advantage you were trying to obtain from cold exposure in the first place.
Slowly does it
It is essential to ease yourself into cold exposure, just as you cannot bench press large weights on day one of your workout regimen. Begin with cold showers before progressing to ice baths or swimming in open water. Starting with a cold shower may be rather shocking to the system, so ease into it gradually. Here’s how it’s done:
- Turn the temperature down to cold after your regular shower. Allow a few minutes for the water to wash over your body to acclimate it to the reduced temperature.
- Turn the dial down until the water is chilly once you acclimate to the reduced temperature.
- Holding the shower head, spray water over your wrists, then up and down your arms and legs.
- Finally, reattach the shower head and let the water run over the front of your body first, then turn around and let the cold water wash over your back. You might also rub your body with your hands at the same time if it helps.
- When you initially start taking cold showers, you may be unable to stand entirely under the water and get your head wet. However, after you’ve done so, begin with a few seconds and gradually increase to more significant amounts of time as you become used to it! Do not berate yourself if you can only achieve thirty seconds in cold water. The good news is that this period of time has been found to be sufficient to reap the various benefits of cold exposure.
To summarize, it is preferable to gradually reduce the temperature of the water and increase the amount of time you spend in the shower over the course of a few days.
Managing your breathing when having a cold shower or ice bath is critical. You may be gasping and panicking due to the unexpected cold. Concentrate on your breathing before entering the shower. Taking deep, steady, even breaths might help you maintain your calm and reduce your heart rate. Exhale thoroughly as well, since this helps to remove the chilly air in your lungs. Breathe in through your nose for four counts, then out through your mouth for four counts again. In general, avoid holding your breath since it causes your body to stiffen up and makes the experience more uncomfortable. Remember to take calm, deep breaths, and you should be able to feel much more comfortable and manage the feelings you will experience with ease; aside from being mindful of your breathing, attempt to relax your shoulders and release any tension in your body.
Once you’ve become acclimated to cold showers, you may fully submerge your body in either open water or an ice bath. It is preferable to do it gradually, as with the shower. Lower yourself in a little at a time, staying in for a little longer each time. The primary distinction between ice baths and icy showers is that you should not attempt to warm yourself up too fast afterward, no matter how tempting it may be. This is due to the requirement for blood to recirculate back into your arms, legs, fingers, and toes. March for a minute or two on the spot, or do the ‘horse stance’ action. Wim Hof, often known as the Ice Man, suggests this. Here’s a video that demonstrates how to accomplish it.
Taking a cold shower first thing in the morning might help you wake up and start your day feeling refreshed and energized. However, don’t be tempted to take a cold shower right before bed. This is because it might interrupt your sleep pattern by interfering with your biological clock. A cold shower or ice bath should be taken two to three hours before bedtime. This is because cold showers cause the hormones noradrenaline and cortisol to be released. These activate the sympathetic nervous system, which makes falling asleep difficult. Having said that, taking a cold shower at the proper time might really help you sleep since it aids in the creation of melatonin. This hormone aids in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, falling asleep, and benefiting from a deep sleep.
When not to do it
While you’re getting acclimated to cold showers, ice baths, or open-water dipping, make sure you only do it when you’re feeling well. If you are feeling under the weather, there is no harm in skipping a day or two. That being stated, when you feel fit and sound, you should gradually and consistently build up. That means starting on alternate days until you feel comfortable doing it every day; however, ice baths, open water dips, or swimming are likely to be less convenient in a hectic schedule. It would be best to practice it regularly and continuously since your body will become accustomed to it as it acclimates to lower temperatures, resulting in more significant advantages.
It’s a terrific method to keep motivated if you do it with other people who can inspire and encourage you. More significantly, you can hold each other to account. Why not push yourself and a handful of friends or family members to a thirty-day cold shower challenge? Make a social media post to identify willing participants, and then post regularly to report in and keep each other motivated. Just remember to take it softly and gradually at first.
- The history of cold-water therapy https://discovermonk.com/blogs/blog/the-history-of-cold-water-therapy
- Want to be a Navy SEAL? Start your mornings by doing this. https://blog.theveteranssite.greatergood.com/navy-seal-cold-shower/
- Habituation of the initial responses to cold water immersion in humans: a central or peripheral mechanism? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2231206/
- Cold exposure: Human immune responses and intracellular cytokine expression https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11001091_Cold_exposure_Human_immune_responses_and_intracellular_cytokine_expression
- Effect of cold stimulation during slow-wave sleep on sleep cycle https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306456508000508
- Short-term Cold Acclimation Recruits Brown Adipose Tissue in Obese Humans https://diabetesjournals.org/diabetes/article/65/5/1179/17613/Short-term-Cold-Acclimation-Recruits-Brown-Adipose
- Short-term cold acclimation improves insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3891