The majority of research on the health advantages of cold exposure focuses on full-body, up-to-the-neck immersion in ice waters. But who says you can’t get your cold-induced goodness in other ways? Sure, the scientific methods are still in the works, but that won’t stop us from venturing into the refreshing world of chilly adventures.
The trick to cold exposure, regardless of approach, is finding that sweet spot of pleasant discomfort. Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., the charismatic host of the podcast The Huberman Lab and a neuroscientist at Stanford Medical School, says, “You want to get uncomfortably cold but not dangerously cold.”
Simply put, push yourself until your mind begs for warmth as your body boldly enjoys the icy hug without risking frostbite or tissue damage. It may sound like vague advice, but it just means to focus on listening to your body’s cues and modifying as needed.
Let’s look at some of the fun ways you may incorporate cold exposure into your life. Here are some tips to keep in mind whether you’re taking an ice bath, gleefully plunging into the surf, or getting an invigorating cold shower.
First and foremost, listen to your body
Prioritizing your safety is critical before beginning any cold exposure practice. Consult your doctor before attempting cold immersion if you have a history of heart problems or a family history of cardiac disorders. While cold exposure has many advantages, it is crucial to remember that what is safe for one individual may be dangerous for another. When in doubt, exercise caution and seek professional guidance. Remember that the coolest choices are the ones that are wise.
The chilling threshold: Discovering your comfort zone
Choosing the appropriate temperature for cold exposure is a personal adventure. Although the activation of brown fat—the good type of fat—usually happens below 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), what seems painful to one person may not be uncomfortable to another. Pay attention to your body’s signals and try out different temperatures. If you start shivering, it’s a good sign that you’re in the cold zone.
Timing is everything
The basic rule for cold exposure length is simple: the colder the temperature, the shorter the time required. Whether you’re going for a brisk winter walk or taking a cold shower, bear in mind that the temperature can change throughout the year. Accept and acclimatize to the shifting seasons. Remember that even a brief exposure to cold water can have an immediate mood-boosting effect.
Dive in: Increasing body submergence
Going in up to your neck is good if you have the opportunity to totally immerse yourself in water. To avoid a sudden headache, you may opt to dip your head in and out of a cool shower. To gain the full benefits of cold exposure, expose as much of your body as feasible. So don’t be shy—dive in and enjoy the revitalizing sensation.
Patience is a virtue
When it comes to mood-boosting, the effects of cold water are nearly immediate. The dopamine and norepinephrine rush will leave you feeling energized and clear-headed. Long-term advantages of brown fat activation, on the other hand, require a little more patience. Consistent exposure to cold water helps build up your brown fat stores over time, resulting in improved metabolism and overall well-being. Researchers believe that even a single season of swimming twice a week can be beneficial.
The best time for cold exposure
Do you want to start your day with a bang? Consider taking a cold-water plunge or taking an icy shower. The energizing experience will jolt you awake and set the tone for a busy morning. As a result of the initial cold shock, your body gradually warms up, raising your core temperature and releasing adrenaline and dopamine into your bloodstream. Cold showers, on the other hand, should be avoided shortly before bed because they may disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
Incorporating cold exposure into your life is an exciting adventure. You may uncover the tremendous benefits of this exercise by embracing the coolness and establishing your comfort zone. Always remember that safety comes first, so consult your doctor if necessary. Prepare to enter a realm of cold-induced energy and witness the remarkable metamorphosis that awaits your mind and body.