Cold water therapy is having something of a moment. From celebrities sinking into ice baths and frozen lakes to a whole new movement thanks to 'The Iceman' Wim Hof, believers worldwide report multiple benefits for both their mental and physical health. Dare you take the plunge?
While it might seem like a relatively new venture, the use of cold therapy for healing goes back centuries. According to historical sources, the ancient Greeks used cold water for therapy and relaxation, while its application was also recognized as an effective means of treating fevers. By the early 21st century, medical specialists were exploring how cold water actively aided exercise recovery by influencing circulation and reducing muscle pain, swelling, and inflammation. In recent years, interest in cold water therapy has mushroomed thanks to endorsement from athletes, celebrities, and Wim Hof, who holds multiple records for cold water exposure and certain breathing techniques.
Beyond the physical benefits associated with cold water therapy, studies have also indicated that the practice can deliver multiple mental health benefits. A growing body of research suggests that long-term exposure to cold water can help to boost mood and emotions. For example, there is evidence that cold immersion stimulates the vagus nerve, lowering the heart rate and reducing stress hormones in the body while increasing the production of neurotransmitters and ‘feel-good’ hormones. It is also believed to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by increasing blood levels of noradrenaline and endorphins, including beta-endorphins, which control stress.
Islands Coldspots: You are spoilt for sea swimming choice in the Channel Islands, and we’re lucky to have hotels just a stone’s throw away from some of our favorite spots*:
- St Brelade’s Bay, Jersey
- Fermain Valley, Guernsey
- Braye Beach, Alderney
*Always stay safe when open-water swimming. Swim within your abilities, check weather and tide times, and never swim alone. For more information on sea safety, visit www.rnli.org.