The Health Benefits of Polar Plunges

*Christi Shingara*

Polar plunges are typically known to be an activity where groups of people dive into icy waters for a fundraising cause, not to mention a fun way to show that you have the willpower to do such a thing! When hearing about these events, I have always thought it was a bit insane, considering I’d rather be inside by a warm fireplace drinking hot cocoa on a frigid winter day rather than frolicking about in icy waters.

However, it turns out that being submerged in cold water actually has amazing health benefits! From the likes of supermodel Helena Christensen to Olympic freeskier Maggie Voisin taking the plunge seems like it has become the next big health craze. Here are a few of the surprising health benefits of immersing yourself into cold water. And remember, this may not be for everyone, so it’s important to assess your own personal health before taking the plunge.

Boosts Mood

When immersing yourself in cold water, norepinephrine, an anti-stress hormone and neurotransmitter, and epinephrine/adrenaline are released which is what makes you feel refreshed. It also helps with symptoms of depression. For example, this study shows that cold showers help relieve depression symptoms.

Reducing Inflammation

Cold water instantly helps numb the nerves that surround your joints and muscles which cause the release of hormones and endorphins. It acts almost like a painkiller relieving muscle strain and joint pain. Athletes have been using this methods for years.

Builds Immune System

Who knew that cold water can in fact builds a health immune system. It helps boost the white blood cell count by forcing the body to react to changing conditions. Over time, your body becomes better at activating its defenses.

Keeps Hair and Skin Healthy

According to healthline.com , wellness expert Dr. Jacqueline Schaffer, MD, says that cold water tightens and constricts the blood flow which gives your skin a healthier glow. According to an article published on the website NaturallyCurly.com, cold water closes and strengthens your hair cuticles.

Boosts Metabolism

According to gastroenterologist and internist, Niket Sonpal, MD, cold water make it so that your body has to heat up to regulate its temperature. When you’re cold, your body shivers in order to warm itself up, which requires energy (aka burning calories). Such a boost in your metabolism is one of the benefits of a cold shower, which can help with weight management. (wellandgood.com)

Improves Circulation

Cold water immersion is also know to improve circulation. There is decreased blood flow to the skin when the body is exposed to cold water. However the benefit happens after the cold water stops, the body has to warm itself up, so there is an increase in blood flow to the surface of the skin. Some scientists think that this could improve circulation. A study that looked at cold-water immersion after exercise found that, after four weeks, blood flow to and from muscles had improved. (theconversation.com)

These are all impressive benefits, however, before jumping into cold water check out How to Use Cold Water Therapy and how to safely go about it.

Did you ever do a Polar Plunge? Let us know in the comments below!

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