The power of (cold) water
Who would have thought that taking a dip in the water could transform your mental health? Whether jumping into the local river, a swim in the sea or simply plunging yourself into a cold bath, immersing your body in cool, or cold, water has a range of benefits that are worth talking about. Okay, so an ice bath doesn’t sound all that appealing, but the fun of diving into the water at the lake or beach to cool off at the end of a long day, or have a laugh with friends and family is what this time of year is all about. So, what makes it more than just having a good time? Let’s jump right into it!
Immersion in cold water is believed to activate the body’s natural healing powers that can relieve the symptoms of a small number of medical conditions and promote a sense of health and wellbeing. Now when we are talking about cold water, it doesn’t have to be a bath filled with blocks of ice; any body of water which is at a temperature below that of the human body will work well. So, with sea temperatures currently sitting in the high teens, you get the idea that a swim in the ocean is a perfect form of cold water immersion. And if you don’t have access to something like this, a shower can definitely do the trick!
Frequent exposure to cold is linked to a number of different health benefits. In some examples, scientists have found evidence that exposure to cold water can speed up metabolism, reduce inflammation, swelling and alleviate sore muscles. What’s more, regularly immersing ourselves in cold water has also been linked to improved quality of sleep and more focus. For these reasons, many athletes use ice baths and other types of exposure to cold water as a means to speed up recovery after physical exercise. It sounds a bit like a home run for all of us, not just those elite sportspeople.
One individual has developed a programme to utilise the transformational power of cold water, who truly lives and breathes this cold water method is a man called Wim Hof. The fact that he has created a structured package for people to follow demonstrates that cold water therapy has gained serious popularity in recent years, most likely a result of the reported health benefits.
The Wim Hof Method puts cold water at the centre of what it is about - regular dips in refreshing (or downright freezing) water. Participants have even reported health benefits that range from higher energy levels to reduced anxiety and stress. Wim’s message is clear, immersing oneself in cold water, be it a shower, bath or outdoor source, is a low-cost to free experience that allows individuals to reduce aches and pains, develop tolerance and resilience and engage our minds and focus in something which we can only control our response to.
With air temperatures creeping a little higher as the weeks go on and the sun shining just a little longer each day, it is becoming more and more possible to make time to take a jump and enjoy the cool refreshing waters that this beautiful country has to offer. So whether it’s the waters of Lake Taupo, the shores of Abel Tasman or the glacial river at the Blue Pools, or simply somewhere closer to home, they are waiting and ready to receive you! And now that you know that it has transformational power as well as being a bit of fun, what more could you ask for? Go on, dive in!
Wondering what else can help improve your wellbeing? With summer almost here, Liam has written about the benefits of Vitamin D on our health. Why not give it a read here and learn more about how nature can help us feel so much better?