The Cold Facts of One Hot Health Trends: Cold Plunge

Physical benefits of cold plunges

Despite some research that suggests it might not be true, the majority of medical professionals and experts agree that cold water therapy supplements muscle recovery post-workout by offering pain relief related to muscle soreness and decreasing inflammation in the body as blood vessels constrict in cold water.

A cold plunge also alters the blood flow by temporarily redirecting circulation to the organs and away from the body’s peripherals. Evidence has shown that this improves circulation to deeper muscles and tissues (a good thing), improves metabolism and lowers the levels of the possibly detrimental stress hormone, cortisol (also a good thing), but can raise blood pressure and heart rate, which is not helpful to those with poor cardiovascular health. There is no definitive proof of the cold plunge as a miracle immune system booster or weight loss tool.

With this in mind, it is important to view cold water therapy as a component of well-being healthcare. If you have cardiovascular issues, it’s not recommended to do a cold plunge. In general, it’s always a good idea to cold plunge with a buddy and take things slow!

Mental benefits of cold plunges

Do cold plunges improve your mental health? The most notable effects occur immediately after a cold plunge when exposure to the cold temperatures trigger a metabolism boost and the release of dopamine, endorphins, norepinephrine. By regulating the stress response, blocking pain receptors, and influence dopamine levels, a cold plunge can boost your mood and leave you with a tranquil feeling of calm, like a “runner’s high.”

The shock of submerging in cold water also triggers a rush of noradrenaline in the body and brain in tandem with the beta-endorphins. When released, you experience a sudden burst of energy and sense of alertness that absolutely makes you feel alive and ready for action. There is plenty of evidence that shows what a positive impact breathing and meditation can have on the mind-body system. And a promising study has showed a reduction in depressive symptoms and an improvement in mood and anxiety through cold showers and cold water immersion, but it’s certainly no miracle drug.

Bottom line is, cold plunging is not a singular solution to mental and physiological health problems. It can absolutely complement a healthy lifestyle and even enhance certain aspects of your life that contribute to feeling happier and more fit overall, yet there’s a lot more research to be done to prove that point. What is true are the undeniable health benefits of spending time outside and the intrinsic value of seeking out healthy stressors that make our body-mind more resilient and positioned for growth.

7 Best Cold Plunge Tubs & Ice Baths Available Now