Cold Water Therapy

photo of Liz Barker
Liz Barker
November 9, 2020
contributing author:
Liz Barker Fit for Living Cold Water Therapy Swimming

This picture was taken in the middle of winter in North Cornwall.  You may think why would you run into freezing water with just a swimming costume on, that's madness and the last thing you would want to do. Well myself alongside many others who enjoy cold water swimming love it for the natural high. Being in the cold water brings us closer to the pain barrier. Endorphins are released when we’re in pain, to help us cope with it. Endorphins are feel good chemicals that make us happy by triggering a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine!

There are also a ton of other health benefits.

1. It boosts your immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells the body has as your body is forced to react to the change in conditions. Over a period of time your body becomes better at activating its defences so you build a stronger immune response.

2. It improves your circulation. As cold water hits your body it constricts circulation on the surface of your body. This causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate at faster rates to maintain an ideal body temperature.

3.  You burn calories.
The body must work harder to keep everything warm while swimming. Scientists have found evidence that exposure to cold speeds up metabolism.

4. It reduces inflammation and promotes faster muscle recovery. For a long time sports players have used ice baths to help reduce inflammation, swelling and sore muscles.

5.  It increases your libido.
A dip in some cold water boosts oestrogen and testosterone production, adding an edge to fertility and libido.

Tips starting with cold water exposure

If you fancy giving it a go, a good way to start is with a cold shower. Start with 20-30 secs and build up adding a few seconds each day until you can shower for up to 2 minutes in cold water.

If you fancy a winter ocean dip or ice bath, acclimatise first. Build it up slowly and your body will get used to the cold.

Also warm up slowly afterwards as hot water can cool your core and it can be dangerous. Instead, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, wrap up well and have a hot drink.

‍Also check out Wim Hof aka the Ice Man. He offers some free online cold water and breath work courses

‍The thought of the cold is the hard bit but once you try it you’ll be hooked I’m sure!