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Health Benefits of Cold Water Immersion

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

What if we lived in a world full of peace and tranquillity, calmness and freedom from health issues and poor mental health? It's all possible with a simple addition to every day life, cold water immersion.

a girl performing cold water immersion in an ice bath filled with cold water and ice to release dopamine
"The rush of dopamine becomes addictive, it keeps me in balance and feeling grounded" - cold water enthusiast

So many people suffer from some form of health crisis and at first hand presume that a visit to the doctors is the answer. Here we will explain why cold water immersion can help and be your new natural medicine.

There is something so calming about cold water, the way it makes you shiver as you start to walk in, everything else gets forgotten about as you are fully present in the moment, analysing the temperature of the water, the rush of adrenaline through your body, the tingles you can feel from the touch of cold water against your skin. Now, you are experiencing freedom. Feeling the sense of connection to the water and away from the busy world around you as you take one more step towards the water, finding yourself immersing deeper and deeper until you can feel the water line brushing against your neck. You start to feel alive, calm and completely present by your surroundings. As you take your first stroke through the icy waters, your body starts to relax and you no longer feel the cold, you feel serenity, peacefulness and the calming affect of cold water. Sound familiar?

Cold water immersion was founded by Wim Hof, the man who discovered that cold water could in fact be beneficial to us in so many aspects such as potentially being a natural remedy to ease depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as used as an aid for recovery for many athletes.

The starting point to cold water immersion for some may be a quick 30 second cold shower in the mornings, slowly building up to a full body dip in a bath, or a trip out to a local swim spot with a cold water swimming group. Some people choose to swim alone, but local groups can help with new individuals wanting to explore the world of cold water immersion. I would always recommend swimming with another party as swimming alone has it's own risks and dangers, such as cold water shock and other side effects. The experience of cold water immersion can be truly endearing and a new journey to self-discovery!

Here's the secret we now need to share.

Cold water immersion can in fact be useful for:

  • Reduction in inflammation (inflammation of the body can be a cause for depressive and anxiety symptoms)

  • Improved quality of sleep

  • Instant mood booster

  • Increase in happy hormones - dopamine

  • Reduction in stress

  • Reduces pain

  • Recovery

  • Feeling grounded and in the present moment

  • Overall better health

Why are most people happy to take prescribed medication for mental health and other health issues when there is a natural way to medicate?

Research shows that a big cause for poor mental health such as anxiety and depression may be caused by inflammation within parts of the brain. This inflammation causes the brain to react which then triggers off a reaction in the body and ultimately uses the body as a response pilot, increasing feelings of anxiety, and moods associated with depressive disorder. We now have a new natural way to beat inflammation without the use of medication and instead take the plunge and immerse ourselves into cold water, whether this be in the form of an ice bath or wild swimming. Other useful resources to reduce inflammation include dietary choices, reducing refined carbs and sugars, and adding more greens, vegetables, nuts and seeds into our every day diet.

Studies also show by improving sleep quality and getting the daily recommended sleep every night can also have a big impact on the way we function from day to day, as good sleep hygiene also has been proven to reduce symptoms of inflammation. Another great way to sleep better at night, as mentioned before is dipping in icy waters. Scientists have performed experiments to study the effects of cold water and sleep, coming to a conclusion highlighting the fact that cold water increases the production of melatonin in the body, melatonin can also be referred to as a "sleep hormone", the higher the levels of melatonin, the better our quality of sleep will become. So take yourself for a dip!

As we immerse in cold water our body begins to release endorphins, instantly acting as a mood booster and also a natural pain killer. Many people seek therapy through cold water for pains, aches and even nerve pain.

A documentary on Netflix enhances the idea of using cold water as pain relief, as a diver named Johanna Nordblad had to give up her love for mountain-bikes due to an accident which caused severe damage in one leg. Johanna Nordblad lived with the pain every day until she discovered that in fact, cold water would ease her pain. She began by dipping her leg in, soaking from knee down and embraced the cold water as a natural pain killer, which worked.

diving under icy waters, ice diving, ice hole
"Cold water healed me" - Johanna Nordblad

Over time Johanna Nordblad became addicted to the feeling of cold water immersion as she recognised not only was it relieving pain in her leg but she had discovered a new passion in life and began attempting to perform the longest ice dive in the world, in attempts to break the world record. Her life changed.

Johanna Nordblad Finnish ice diver and new world record holder for diving under ice
Johanna Nordblad, Finnish ice diver.

The full documentary can be found on Netflix called Hold Your Breath: The Ice Dive.

An ice bath can relieve symptoms of every day stress, or even chronic stress, mainly due to it's calming abilities and the fact that it can have a soothing affect on the Vagus nerve (one of the main nerves within the body associated with the parasympathetic nervous system).

Inflammation plays a big factor when it comes to health, even when working out, the muscle tears caused during intense training start an inflammatory response in the body, again with the help of cold water this inflammation can be massively reduced, speeding up recovery time in-between workouts. An ice bath is an ideal piece of equipment for any gym enthusiast to have in their garden as it provides a quick solution to recovery and fighting inflammation.

Urban Tone as a brand embraces simple outdoor living, from wear for cold water swimmers to equipment which can enhance an individuals outdoor experience. Feeling grounded and getting every individual outdoors embracing nature is the mission, a world where #WeGround has become the soul.

An ice bath and cold water immersion can make you feel in the present moment and give a sense of freedom, alongside of experiencing feelings such as self discovery.

Start your journey to cold water immersion today.

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