Now we are in November many people are tempted by the dark nights and stormy weather to stay indoors more and wrap up warm but did you know that staying in the warm might not be as good for your mental and physical health as you might think?
In fact, frequent exposure to cold is linked to a number of different health benefits. For example, scientists have found evidence that exposure to cold speeds up metabolism. Another benefit of exposing your body to cold is that it reduces inflammation, swelling and sore muscles. Therefore, many athletes use ice baths and other types of exposure to cold as a means to speed up recovery after physical exercise. Furthermore, cold body therapy is also linked to improved sleep, more focus and even an improved immune response.
A new book about cold therapy called “The Wim Hof Method” by the so called “Iceman” Wim Hof explains how exposure and adaptation to the cold has enabled him to run marathons in bare feet during arctic weather and teach others to do the same. People he has helped claim benefits that range from having higher energy levels to relief from symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Scientific investigations agree that cold exposure changes people’s physiology and with it their ability to withstand stress.
Studies on the benefits of cold-water swimming agree that cold therapy seems to work. Feeling down? Try taking a cold shower. It may seem like a superficial fix, but the benefits of cold-water immersion actually run deeper than you think when it comes to boosting your mood. A 2007 research study found that cold showers can help treat depression symptoms, and if used on a routine basis, may be more beneficial than prescription medications. This is because, cold water triggers a flood of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, which make you feel happy. A separate study that analysed the effects of regular winter swimming on the mood of swimmers showed that after four months of routine cold-water swimming, the subjects felt more energetic, active and spritely than the control group.
So, as we approach the end of the year with its cold and dark, have a think about whether you might benefit from a little cold exposure?