A Polar Plunge... Every Day?
It's that time of year again when the trees drop their leaves and cool nights turn to frosty mornings. We start layering up with long johns, coats, scarves, hats, mittens- and technology has advanced far enough to give us hand/foot warmers to help keep us warm in the long, hard winter months. Living in this beautiful part of Wisconsin, we're blessed with winter activities and sports that require us to be outside for longer periods of time in cold temperatures and inevitably, as the hours go by and the wind gets stronger, the cold permeates our layers and our body's core temperature drops making us shiver.
Shivering is our body's intelligence-generating movement of skeletal muscle to generate heat within the body but after a period of time, like hiccuping, it become annoying. When we start to shiver, we assume we need more layers for insulation, more heat.
What is instead of using MORE layers, we used LESS? What if we worked on conditioning our body's ability to cope with cold temperatures by increased exposure in short, controlled durations? Enter cold-exposure training.
Methods of Cold-Exposure Training
How does one practice cold-exposure training? Not just by going outside in really cold temperatures of course! At home practice can look like a quick 5-minute cold shower or submerging your trunk in an ice bath for two or more minutes. However, the power of cold-exposure training lives in how you BREATHE and how you THINK while you are enduring a cold exposure. Studies show that if you're able to get your breath and mental reaction under control following a shock to the system you are able to regulate your body temperature and adapt to the prolonged exposure to cold, overcoming the body’s need to shiver.
What are the possible benefits?
- increased metabolism
- decreased swelling
- decreased inflammation
- decreased muscle soreness
In the world of holistic healing, The WIM HOF Method finds that benefits of cold exposure therapy are also linked to improved quality of sleep, more focus and even an improved immune response.
With colder temperatures setting in early this season, don’t miss out on the opportunity to prepare yourself both physically and mentally by adding cold exposure training to your daily self-care regimen. Share your triumphs and tribulations with us along your cold training journey on Instagram @catalyst_wellness and be on the lookout for more ways to boost recovery and improve your wellness!
Stocks JM, Taylor NAS, Tipton MJ, Greenleaf JE. Human physiological responses to cold exposure. Aviat Space Environ Med 2004; 75:444–457.
Buijze GA, De Jong HMY, Kox M, van de Sande MG, Van Schaardenburg D, Van Vugt RM, et al. (2019) An add-on training program involving breathing exercises, cold exposure, and meditation attenuates inflammation and disease activity in axial spondyloarthritis.