WHAT EXACTLY IS COLD EXPOSURE?
Cold exposure is an example of hormesis (a.k.a. positive stressors) that causes the body to adapt physically and mentally. The concept of hormesis is controlled in comparison to anxiety-inducing stress, and experts say that applying a small amount of stress on to our bodies will help improve overall wellbeing.
HOW DOES COLD EXPOSURE WORK?
When our bodies are shocked by a sudden drop in temperature, our brains send a signal to the body that it is under stress and must respond accordingly. So immersing yourself in an ice bath for a set period of time is a technique that has a ton of benefits to its name.
Read on to find out about four scientific benefits of cold exposure⬇️
💪🏼 AIDS IN MUSCLE RECOVERY
Cold water exposure is beneficial for muscular recovery, according to a 2022 meta-analysis published in the Journal Sports Medicine. The analysis's research found that lowering the temperature decreases creatine kinases (enzymes generated when muscle cells are injured) resulting in minimising the effects of an injury.
🧘🏼♀️ REDUCES STRESS AND INCREASES RESILIENCE
A published study suggests that cold exposure during an immersion bath may stimulate your vagus nerve, helping you to relax and de-stress.
It was also reported that regular ice baths may trigger cellular mechanisms and signalling pathways, influencing how we react to stress and encouraging mental resilience. Our bodies release "fight-or-flight" hormones like norepinephrine and adrenaline when we enter a cold environment, (sometimes at levels up to five times greater than our baseline. By intentionally exposing ourselves to these hormones, Huberman explains on his podcast, "we may learn to retain mental clarity and calm while we are in a state of stress, and that may be tremendously beneficial when encountering stressors in all aspects of life."
💤 IMPROVES SLEEP QUALITY
An ice bath would definitely wake the body up, there is no doubt about it. A randomised study that evaluated male athletes' nocturnal core body temperature, sleep, and heart rate variability discovered that those who were advised to fully submerge themselves in an ice bath following treadmill running reported better-quality sleep. Just don't have one too late in the day!
🤸 SUPPORTS MOOD AND ALERTNESS
Immersing yourself into an ice bath might not sound like a mood-boosting activity, but science says otherwise. Cold water immersion has been shown to trigger the release of a variety of neurotransmitters, among them dopamine, known as the “feel-good” hormone.
Who’s ready to take the plunge?
Written by: BYS Nutritionist Brianna-lee Schiefelbein