Tag: cold

Cold Plunges: Benefits and Where to Start

I don’t consider myself a biohacker, but I do intentionally engage in practices that I believe will extend my healthspan and lifespan. Cold plunges are one of them. Cold exposure goes into the bucket along with things like resistance training, intermittent fasting, sun on your skin, and sauna—all stimuli that stress the body and prompt it to become stronger and more resistant to chronic and acute health issues.  I’m tempted to say that cold plunges are an easy way to challenge your system, but if you’ve ever stepped up to the edge of an icy stream or cold pool, you know there’s nothing easy about forcing yourself to get in, sink down to your neck, and make the intentional choice to stay there. Veteran cold plungers and winter swimmers will tell you that over time your body acclimates so it becomes easier to tolerate the cold. You’ll even come to eagerly anticipate your next plunge. That’s all true. But there will always be a part of your brain that tells you, “You don’t have to do this. C’mon, stay warm and dry.” Each plunge requires you to overcome that little voice. It’s not easy, but it’s simple in the sense that just about everyone can find a way to harness the power of cold. And everyone should because the benefits of cold exposure are pretty impressive:  Reduces inflammation by lowering pro-inflammatory cytokines and increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines Triggers the release of immune cells that can ward off illness  Converts white fat into more metabolically active brown or beige fat Ramps up metabolic rate and boosts weight loss Promotes mitochondrial biogenesis Improves insulin sensitivity More than these physical benefits, the fact that it’s not easy is arguably the biggest upside of all. The mental fortitude you build when you intentionally and repeatedly put yourself in uncomfortable situations is undeniable. One of the most profound disconnects between our modern world and the one our ancestors inhabited is just how comfortable we are most of the time. We now have to go out of our way to simulate the physical and mental challenges that for most of history were just a part of everyday life.  I’ve been regularly immersing myself in cold water for years now, and I’m convinced that that’s one of the reasons why I still feel as good as ever mentally and physically. Here’s how to get started. How I Cold Plunge Early in the day, I like colder temperature for shorter duration. Generally that means water in the mid to low 40s for a minute or two. (That’s Fahrenheit; 4 to 7 degrees Celsius.) Get out, lightly towel off, dress. Don’t do anything special to warm up. Go about your day energized and refreshed. Later in the day, I like a little less cold (48 to 51 degrees F, 8 to 10 degrees C) but for a longer duration, anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes. If it’s after 6 p.m. and my intention is to prepare myself for a better night’s … Continue reading “Cold Plunges: Benefits and Where to Start”

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