It is May 4th,  I step into the lake and I feel the cold sensation. I walk to my waist and then get down to where the water reaches my neck.  My breathing is shallow, I feel my heart rate increase.  I begin to take slow deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth.  I can feel my heart rate lower, my breathing becomes more relaxed.  I feel the cold but I am also more relaxed.  I get out after 4 minutes to let my body warm. Yes my body shivers.  I feel energized and uplifted.  Now I am ready to water-ski for the first time this season.  

OK some of you may think I am crazy but this was me this year.  Yes I have been doing cold water therapy for about 2 years now.  There are various types of cold water therapy and anyone can receive the health benefits it provides. Lets take a look at various ways below. 

First there are cold showers.  This is probably the easiest way to begin.  It may not be uniform as only certain parts of your body are receiving the cold water but you still get the health benefits. Begin by starting out with a warm shower and gradually turn the water cooler until you can tolerate for 1-2 minutes. 

Second are sitting in ice baths. Temperatures range from 25 degrees to 50 degrees. Typically you begin with sitting in for 1-2 minutes and gradually increase. These are tubs that you purchase to sit in. Here is a site I recommend  It is important when doing this that you begin when you have a family member or friend with you. 

Cold plunge pools are a third type and have a filtration system in place where the water is constantly moving. So water will feel cooler than it is. Temperatures range from 39 to 50 degrees. You can find these available at select spas. 

So what are the health benefits of cold water therapy?

  • reduce inflammation, improve circulation, improve muscle recovery and performance. 
  • causes the prolonged release of Dopamine which elevates are mood and focus 
  • enhances immune response which include our T-cells.

One study in particular showed:
Cold water swimmers had less upper respiratory infections than counterparts. Increases Insulin sensitivity  Glutathione levels were also increased in cold water therapy which glutathione helps the body to detoxify.  Uric acid levels were also found to decrease in cold water therapy, which helps to lower inflammation. 

How to start

  • Begin by 30 seconds to one minute of cold water splash to your face in the morning do this for one week 
  • week two end your shower with 30 seconds of cold water and gradually increase the time 
  • week three start with a cold shower, warm it up a little and end with cold 
  • Week four find a cold plunge or body of cold water.  Start with one minute.  Be sure you have a friend with you. You do not do this alone. As time progresses you can increase to 4-5 minutes. 
  • Be sure to use your breath when doing any of the techniques above, I suggest the 4-7-8 breath to help with focus. Where you breath in through your nose for the count of 4 hold for the count of 7 and breath out for the count of 8. 

As with any new activity you need to begin slow and listen to your body.

Morning Tips to Wake Your Brain

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