It might seem crazy to even consider the idea to go for a mid-winter swim. You may be concerned you are going to ‘catch a cold’ or it may just not seem like the activity that you want to partake in. Cold water can help you feel instantly more energised and can come with a range of potential health benefits.

 

Today, Annabel and the Longevity Exercise Physiology teams at Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymbleBalmainNeutral Bay and Coburg, Melbourne, discuss studies that explore how being immersed in cold water may have benefits for your training and your health.

You may have heard of athletes using cold water immersion therapy after large events or training with the aim of improving recovery time and performance as well as decreasing fatigue levels. The ice baths that athletes submerge themselves in can range in temperature between 5-15 degrees to achieve the optimal health benefits and improvements in recovery. By putting yourself in cold water, it produces significant biochemical and physiological responses within the body. Immersing yourself in cold water below 15 degrees increases heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory volume and metabolism as well as causing a decrease in blood flow (Tipton, Collier, Massey, Corbett & Harper, 2017).

 

“By putting yourself into cold water produces significant biochemical and physiological responses within the body”

 

Some of the studies have suggested that individuals who swim during winter experience health benefits which became evident over time. After a four months study, winter swimmers experienced increased energy levels and decreased pain within their body compared to the control group. By doing repeated cold-water immersions it may reduce the frequency of respiratory infections and improve subjective levels of wellbeing. In relation to improvements in delayed onset muscle soreness, cold-water immersion may decrease perceived levels of fatigue after a training session. It also goes without saying that cold water immersion will help you push through mental barriers. This can have positive implications for sports performance, and even just your ability to push yourself to work a little harder during an exercise session (Russell, Chang, Hill, Cotter & Francois, 2021).

 

“… submerging yourself in cold water below 15 degrees, increases heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory volume and metabolism as well as a decrease in blood flow”

 

Additionally, being submerged in cold water can help reduce the temperature of damaged muscle tissue and constrict the blood vessels, helping to reduce swelling and inflammation or even numbing nerve endings giving some immediate pain relief and a natural way of speeding up your recovery – whether from training, sports or general wear and tear of daily life. Overall, cold water immersion can improve blood flow and therefore, circulation. It can improve perceived pain levels, immunity and wellbeing. Some people also use it as part of an overall plan for weight loss, due to its positive effects on metabolism (Mooventhan & Nivethitha, 2014).

 

If you want to find out how you should implement cold water immersion into your training week, give Longevity Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Pymble, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista, and Neutral Bay a call on 1300 964 002 to book in a session today!

 

Written by Annabel Bergman

 

References:

Tipton, M., Collier, N., Massey, H., Corbett, J., & Harper, M. (2017). Cold water immersion: kill or cure?. Experimental Physiology102(11), 1335-1355. doi: 10.1113/ep086283

Russell, B., Chang, C., Hill, T., Cotter, J., & Francois, M. (2021). Post-exercise Warm or Cold Water Immersion to Augment the Cardiometabolic Benefits of Exercise Training: A Proof of Concept Trial. Frontiers In Physiology12. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.759240

Mooventhan, A., & Nivethitha, L. (2014). Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body. North American Journal Of Medical Sciences6(5), 199. doi: 10.4103/1947-2714.132935

Cold Water Immersion – Science for Sport. (2022). Retrieved 26 May 2022, from https://www.scienceforsport.com/cold-water-immersion/