Cold Plunge Benefits
There are many health benefits to cold therapy.
From the mental to the physical and everything in between, here are some of the many benefits of cold exposure.
Science Backed Benefits:
For anyone facing stress, this is among the best upsides of cold water therapy.
These days, high levels of stress are all too common amongst all ages. Thankfully, there are many techniques that can help us manage stress-with cold immersion being one of the most effective. Clinical research has proven that a plunge in cold water increases the production of mood-elevating hormones and neurotransmitters noradrenaline (530%) and dopamine (250%). Increases like this are typically only seen after bungee jumping or skydiving for the first time!
This is perhaps one of the best mental health benefits of cold immersion. Cold immersion techniques are proven to enhance mental alertness and focus. This is due to the nominal shock from cold exposure, which activates the sympathetic nervous system. As a result of this “fight or flight” nervous system activation, cognitive abilities are stimulated in the brain. This increases focus, concentration, and alertness.
As highlighted above, cold immersion favorably affects the cognitive stream of humans and can even act as an antidepressant. According to this study by the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, which reviewed winter swimming in Finland, regular winter swimming led to an improvement in general feelings of well-being. When cold water touches the body, norepinephrine (an anti-stress hormone/neurotransmitter) and adrenaline are released. This leads to positive feelings and emotions.
In the same way that putting an ice pack on an injured muscle reduces swelling and inflammation, submerging in cold water has a similar effect on the entire body. It’s no surprise, then, that cold water therapy is popular among athletes who are looking to recover after intense workouts. Researchers in Hong Kong performed a study to examine the impact of cold-water exposure on muscle oxygenation. It showed that cold immersion after regular exercise caused the blood vessels to constrict, thus supplying less blood to the affected area and reducing inflammation and pain for up to one day after the workout. In another study examining the outcomes of cold water immersion in a four-day soccer tournament, it resulted in reduced aches and muscle pains in the athletes. While cold water therapy is helpful for athletes, it can also alleviate pain in people with other underlying conditions. Per the same study, it was shown that cold immersion can help with pain associated with fibromyalgia and rheumatism. As such, cold immersion therapy helps treat inflammation and pain while preventing the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers.
In the same way cold immersion reduces inflammation, it also relieves aches and pains in the muscles. This occurs because cold water causes the blood vessel to constrict, thus leading to less swelling.
In a study conducted in 2020, researchers found that cold water immersion enhanced muscle recovery in volleyball players who practiced cold immersion over 16 days. Athletes who immersed their bodies in cold water reported less muscle soreness after exercising than those who did not.
Given that faster muscle recovery increases athletic performance, this cold exposure benefit is very important for athletes.
As covered above, cold immersion offers many athletic advantages in terms of exercise recovery and reducing inflammation. With many profound hydrotherapy benefits, it’s no wonder so many famous athletes have ice baths in their homes. It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that cold tubs are widely found in fitness centers and athletic facilities— particularly those catering to professional athletes.
In addition to cold water benefits on athletic recovery, it’s also great for cooling off after a workout. Cold exposure reduces the body temperature and inflammation, a recipe for success in athletic performance.
For many, this is one of the more surprising benefits of cold exposure. According to a study performed by Dr. Paul Lee at the National Institute of Health, taking a cold plunge can activate brown fat in your body. This, in turn, causes the hormones Irisin and FGF to be released, burning fat tissues and leading to weight loss. Another way cold immersion triggers weight loss is through shivering, which produces heat and burns calories in the body. Per this research study, cold-induced shivering resulted in energy expenditure that may aid the body against obesity and related conditions.
In addition, a research study in 2009 found that short-period cold water immersions (up to 5 minutes) increased the rate of metabolism. This is another way of achieving weight loss. Note that metabolism is the process where your body converts what you eat/drink into energy, so a higher metabolic rate means more energy burned. Furthermore, this scientific study by the European Journal of Applied Physiology evidenced that cold immersion at 57°F (14°C) increased metabolism by 350%.
Research has often linked cold showers and other forms of cold pool therapy to better sleep. In this study performed on male endurance runners, participants immersed in cold water for 10-15 minutes experienced a drop in body temperature and fewer nighttime arousals. The reason for this is simple: cold showers trigger the body’s sympathetic nervous system (“fight of flight” response). However, shortly after the cold-water “stressor” is no longer present, the Vagus nerve is stimulated. This leads to feelings of peace and calm in the body.
In addition to cold showers, this study performed on distance runners in China evidenced that cryotherapy also enhances sleep quality. Regardless of the type of cold water exposure therapy, it’s clear that whole-body cold immersion benefits sleep.
Given everything else we’ve learned about cold therapy until now, this benefit of cold plunges shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cold exposure leads to a better immune system and the prevention of common diseases and fevers.
According to this study in the Netherlands, people who take cold showers call in sick for work or school 29% less than their peers. Similarly, cold exposure can help the body fight infections by producing a stronger anti-inflammatory response. A more robust anti-inflammatory response is crucial to reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Another study performed in the Netherlands found that individuals could activate their immune system to fight infection using meditation, cold immersion, and breathwork techniques. The study population was subjected to a bacterial infection to examine how their bodies would respond. As a result, the group given those techniques reported fewer symptoms than those who did not practice them. Their body systems generated lesser pro-inflammatory cytokines and more anti-inflammatory chemicals to respond to the bacterial infection.
In another study, doctors found that those who showered with cold water produced higher white blood cell counts than those who didn’t. Medical experts suggest that white blood cells, which fight infections, circulate in the body faster when one is exposed to colder temperatures. This also enhances the body’s antibody and t-cell response.
As these studies suggest, hydrotherapy—particularly cold water exposure—has a remarkable effect on the human body’s immune system.
Cold water immersion therapy also has profound effects on the body’s lymphatic system. This is a network of vessels in the body that helps the body cleanse itself. It does so by clearing out cellular waste and microbes to help your body fight and resist diseases. Key parts of the lymphatic system include lymph nodes, lymph vessels, lymphatic fluid, bone marrow, and the spleen.
Although the lymphatic system is distinct from the blood vessels, it moves around the body in a similar way. The system depends on muscle contraction to move the lymph fluid through the vessels. If the lymphatic system becomes sluggish or stagnant, a buildup of fluids and toxins can occur — leading to colds, joint pain, or even disease.
According to this study by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, cold exposure has a positive effect on lymphatic circulation. As part of this study, bags of cold water were applied to participants’ ankles. Water measured at 34°F (1°C) significantly increased lymph flow. In addition, researchers found that applying pressure to cold had an even greater effect. The reason for this is simple: cold water makes your lymph vessels contract, thus moving lymph fluid through your system. This, in turn, flushes out the waste and stimulates the immune system. As a result, cold water improves the lymphatic system and helps us achieve a healthy body.
When considering cold shower benefits, we rarely think about fertility. However, with recent studies showing that cold therapy influences testosterone levels, there is a direct link here.
According to Mayo Clinic, approximately one in seven couples struggle with fertility issues. Men are partially responsible for these fertility problems.
The PubMed study illustrates a correlation between taking cold baths and testosterone levels. When the body comes into contact with cold water, it produces higher levels of testosterone. Moreover, the following study evidenced that cooling human testicles can substantially increase total sperm count and sperm concentration. On the contrary, exposure to heat—including hot water baths— are known to decrease the sperm count, at least in the short term.
Though there isn’t widespread evidence that cold plunges benefit fertility, there is certainly a strong correlation.
Given the deep involuntary breathing resulting from exposure to the cold, this benefit of cold immersion isn’t too shocking. Lung function is remarkably improved when the body contacts cold water, as found in this PubMed research study. As evidenced in the study, two main factors affecting oxygen transport in the lungs are hydrostatic pressure and temperature. Each is enhanced by cold water temperatures because of the boost in cardiac output from hydrostatic counter pressure and heating. Though the feeling of breathlessness— a common occurrence during those initial moments of a cold water immersion— can feel uncomfortable, it means the lungs are working harder to regulate the nervous system. This, in turn, leads to an improvement in lung function when we take a dip in the cold water.
Blood glucose (or sugar) distributes energy from food to the cells. Blood sugar levels need to be regulated to prevent health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, vision loss, and heart diseases. Like these other benefits of cold water immersion, different kinds of cold exposure techniques can help.
Adiponectin is a protein that is responsible for blood glucose regulation. Low adiponectin levels are often discovered in people with insulin resistance. A study examining the effects of cold immersion on adiponectin levels in males showed that it causes a 70% increase. This leads to lower insulin resistance levels and improves the human body’s metabolism. Furthermore, cold immersion, especially swimming, helps the body burn fat. As such, there is significant research suggesting that cold exposure can address obesity and other health conditions noted above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, safety came first when designing this plunge. If you have specific questions regarding safety, please email us at email@example.com
Yes! Your plunge comes with an ozone filtration system and a 10″ filter to keep your plunge clean. This plunge was built to be low maintenance and have minimal water changes with proper upkeep.
Water temperature can go as low as 39º F. You can set the temperature to your preference at any temperature below 80º F. Please note the plunge does not heat but keeps below the set point.
Ozone or O3 technology is a common and safe water treatment system using pure oxygen. It is a powerful disinfecting agent and removes the need to use heavy chemicals. In short, ozone is terrific for cleaning water, which is why it is used with advanced drinking water treatment plants in the world.
Yes, our plunges are designed to be indoor or outdoor. If you live in a colder climate, it is important to leave the water circulating 24/7 if temps are below 32 degrees for multiple days in a row to prevent freezing pipes. If it gets too cold for extended periods you may need to drain and empty the plunge.
Yes! Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org