The Benefits of Ice Baths

For some taking a cold water bath might be completely out of their comfort zone, but the benefits are well worth it: It improves our immune system and teaches self-control and can make you a happier person on a biochemical level!
The Benefits of Ice Baths

You can hear more and more about the positive effects and the benefits of ice baths and cold showers. But before you run out into the snow or jump into the next lake during winter, let us introduce to you the origins, the method and the health effects of cold water baths.


Cold Baths Throughout History

Bathing in cold water is a common practice in many parts of the world. Since the introduction of civilized bathing, people have experimented with changes in water temperature to expose their bodies to extreme conditions. 

The Romans even had bathhouses with pools in the different rooms that had different temperatures. At the end of the bathing process they took a cold shower or cooled down in a pool with cold water, called frigidarium. Today this ritual is reflected in most saunas and spas in the world. 

In Scandinavia it is an old folk custom to cut an opening in the ice cover of frozen lakes and to immerse oneself in the ice cold water. Switching between the heat of the sauna and running through the snow is based on a similar principle.


Cold Water Baths vs. Cryotherapy

The immersion in ice water is a much debated topic, with other opposing opinions. However, there is no question that taking cold baths has positive physiological effects on regeneration. More and more research on this subject is helping to improve the way this method is used and to adjust it in accordance with individual goals. 

Probably one of the best known proponents of taking ice cold baths is the Dutch Wim Hof. He has developed the so called Wim Hof method, which is based on cold water baths, breath control and control over one’s consciousness. 

In recent years, a similar treatment, cryotherapy, has increasingly gained popularity because it is associated with a number of health benefits. Some people, including professional athletes, bodybuilders and celebrities, even swear by whole-body cryotherapy. This type of therapy is characterized by standing in a closed container for a short time while circulating extremely cold air around the body. 

Because whole-body cryotherapy is relatively expensive and not widely available, methods such as the Wim Hof ​​method offer an affordable alternative. We can practice the method from the comfort of our home with a cold shower and experience the benefits of ics baths!


hands touching ice block benefits of ice baths


The Health Effects of Cold Water Baths

One of the benefits of ice baths or cold showers is improved blood circulation. Therefore it is recommended for people with poor circulation.

When we take a cold bath or shower, our whole body starts working to maintain a normal body temperature. The heart beats faster, the cold causes the blood vessels to constrict, and then, to balance the heat, the blood pumping into the blood vessels speeds up.This has a specifically refreshing effect on the body.

Taking ice baths or cold showers has also beneficial effects on our mental capacities.

A long time ago,in mental hospitals patients with strong symptoms were showered with cold water.  Undoubtedly this was not a very humane method, but its effectiveness was confirmed by modern research. Studies (e.g. here in a study of the North American Journal of Medical Science) have shown that “cold showers can have the same antipsychotic effects as electroconvulsive therapy, as they can work similarly to a mild electric shock applied to the sensory cortex.” 

The researchers also found that cold showers can suppress psychosis-related neurotransmission. It was found that immersion in water at 14 ° C decreased cortisol concentrations in the body, while increasing norepinephrine by 530% and dopamine by 250%. Cortisol is the most important stress hormone, while norepinephrine and dopamine are hormones that play an important role in alertness and happiness.

So basically – even if it is hard to believe – cold showers make you a happier person and should be a regular part of your conscious lifestyle.


Beyond Your Comfort Zone Is Where the Magic Happens

When do you truly feel alive? When do you feel most intensely and when do you appreciate your existence the most? 

The answer to these perhaps seemingly philosophical questions will usually not be ”When I am comfortable”. Paradoxically, human nature seeks security, comfort, warmth, little effort, but these principles are at odds with the intense, invigorating feeling of getting out of our comfort and doing something worth living or getting through seemingly unpleasant and dangerous situations.  

If you take an ice bath or a cold water shower, you definitely leave your comfort zone. This  is where development and transformation begin, the experience of being alive.

These situations will give you a dose of adrenaline, but most importantly you will really be present in the moment. In extreme situations, the mind is focused, the body is pumping blood, and the attention is in the here and now. Therefore, if we go into such situations with sufficient awareness, we will surely experience a kind of inner strength and, in this case, all the benefits of ice baths.

Interestingly, our body is much more resilient than our consciousness thinks. Moreover, perhaps the whole limitation comes from our consciousness. Who knows…


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