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The Cool Path to Wellness: 10 Things to Know about Cold Plunges

If you’ve spent any time at all on social media, you’ve seen the #icebath and #coldplunge trends. Cold water immersion, which includes cold plunges and ice baths alike, have captured the attention of wellness enthusiasts everywhere – and, it turns out there is quite a bit of science behind the cool wellness tool.

Read more to learn 10 things you should know about cold plunges.

It’s an invigorating practice that stimulates the body and mind through exposure to cold temperatures. A cold plunge involves immersing your body in cold water for a short duration (3-5 minutes) to achieve health and/or performance benefits. Our SweatHouz cold plunge sits right around 48-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cold water is a shock to your system! The blood vessels in the skin and peripheral tissues narrow, or vasoconstrict, to help conserve heat and maintain core body temperature. You may also notice a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure that lowers the longer you’re in the cold water with controlled breathing. Plus, endorphins are released, leaving you feeling better post-plunge!
Cold plunges and cryotherapy are both forms of cold therapy, but they differ in terms of application and experience. Cryotherapy involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures via nitrogen gas or cooled air, which surrounds the body with temperatures ranging from -166 to -320 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 minutes.

The cold plunge is more customizable – as the body can be partially immersed in the water (i.e. from the waist down), and you can vary the temperature of the water slightly. Plus, most of the research we have about how and when to use cold stress to improve different outcomes centers around the cold plunge!
The general goal of the cold plunge is to be uncomfortably cold in a safe way. At SweatHouz, we recommend working your way up to a 3–5-minute plunge in a ~50*F water. Many experts on cold water immersion recommend 9-11 minutes of cold water exposure throughout the week – so many of our members plunge twice weekly to feel the mental and physical health benefits.
Whether you pushed too hard during your last HIIT workout or are sore from unpacking a moving truck, evidence supports using cold water therapy to relieve muscle soreness and inflammation. A  recent meta-analysis, a study of studies, found that cold water immersion was better than no intervention (passive rest) for reducing feelings of soreness.
During cold water immersion, neurotransmitters like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine – the feel good hormone – are upregulated and can help us feel more alert and focused for several hours after exposure. Post-plunge, you may notice a better mood, more energy, and an enhanced ability to face the day with vigor.
Keeping your core body temperature warm in cold water requires energy, so you can expect a short-term increase in caloric expenditure during and after your plunge.

Emerging research suggests that there may be long-term implications to improving body composition too, like changing the amount of brown adipose tissue (BAT), which helps regulate your body in cold conditions. Regular cold plunges can potentially increase the activation and efficiency of BAT, leading to a modest increase in calorie expenditure over time.
If you’re a cold therapy newbie, it’s important to acclimate your body gradually. Begin with shorter durations, such as 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then gradually increase the time as your body adapts. We recommend a technique called box breathing:
  • Inhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold it for 4 seconds
  • Exhale for 4 seconds
  • Hold it for 4 seconds.
Just two cycles of box breathing, and you’re more than 30 seconds into your plunge!
Add a 15-minute cold plunge experience onto your 60-minute infrared sauna session to experience contrast therapy at SweatHouz! Your 15-minute appointment includes
  • 3-5 minutes to get settled into your private suite.
  • 3-5 minutes to cold plunge.
  • 3-5 minutes to rinse off in your en-suite shower.
Our mobile app allows you to customize your experience, building a wellness routine that works for you.
Cold plunging is safe for most adults, as long as you listen to your body! However, if you experience circulatory or uncontrolled cardiovascular diseases, are pregnant, or have specific questions relative to your health, we recommend consulting with a medical doctor before trying cold water immersion.

Take the plunge, embrace the chill, and discover the rejuvenating power of cold water immersion for yourself. Book your session today at a SweatHouz near you!

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