Last month I wrote about my experience with cold showers. That it helped me think clearer, increased my self-discipline and a few other benefits.
This challenge left me wondering about all the found benefits of cold immersion. In the end, I really enjoy my cold showers and the effect they had on me. But to be honest they normally wouldn’t take longer than five to ten minutes. Even though it already helped me in a few ways. I think it is time to up my game, I am curious to find out if longer ice baths will give me more or different benefits then just a few minutes under the shower.
As described in this earlier post, the benefits of the cold are huge. It benefits the brain, metabolism, lymphatic and cardiovascular system and above all stimulates the release of norepinephrine. The release of this hormone that simultaneously works as a neurotransmitter, helps our bodies generate this anti-depressive effect.
In one scientific paper about cryotherapy there appears to be a temperature threshold for the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (1).
According to Rhonda P. Patrick, an American biochemist, who has a Ph.D in biomedical science and deep interest in Cryotherapy.
“Coldwater immersion at 68°F (20°C) for 1 hour does not appear to activate norepinephrine release whereas 1 hour at 57°F (14°C) increased it by 530% and also increased dopamine by 250%.”
I am not quite sure if I will have the time to sit in an Icebath for an hour each day…
Luckily her paper shows that long durations aren’t necessarily required for a potent release of norepinephrine.
“A longterm study in humans directly compared people that immersed themselves in cold water at 40°F (4.4°C) for 20 seconds to those that did whole-body cryotherapy for 2 minutes at 166°F (110°C) three times a week for 12 weeks and found that in both cases, plasma norepinephrine increased 2 to 3fold (200 to 300%)” as Dr. Patrick explains.
To get most out of the cold, the paper points out that they are talking about “Full body immersion”. Something that doesn’t happen under a stream of water in the shower. So It is really necessary to take the plunge in this case!
When I did the challenge under the shower I never measured the exact temperature of the water nor the exact time I was under it. This I will definitely do when I start the
I will be creating an ice tub in my small backyard and let nature run its course. Living in the UK during this time a year will hopefully cool the water enough to get it “frosty”.
Kiki Bosch is a nutritionist and biohacker from The Netherlands currently living in the UK. In it.take.thirty, Kiki trials life improvements for thirty days in three fields – health, education, and lifestyle. She uses science to make careful observations on her actions and their implications on her life and those around her.
1. R. Perciavalle Patrick (Cold Shocking the Body
Exploring Cryotherapy, ColdWater Immersion, and Cold Stress) https://www.foundmyfitness.com/reports/cold-stress.pdf