When it’s cold outside, our first instinct is to stay inside, cuddled up by the fire with a blanket and a hot drink.
But the cold is a secret gift we’re not using often enough. There’s a reason why top athletes and successful entrepreneurs (think Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris, and Michael Phelps) use cold therapies on a regular basis. They have discovered the unlimited mental and physical benefits of being cold, including:
-Increased immunity: Cold exposure triggers an increase in virus-fighting white blood cells, which helps you get sick less frequently.
-Mental clarity: The cold increases your heart rate, resulting in a rush of blood that invigorates, energizes, and mentally stimulates. As such, regular cold exposure also helps curb anxiety and depression.
-Pain relief: When cold is applied to a part of the body experiencing pain or swelling, it constricts blood vessels and decreases circulation to the area.
-Muscle recovery: Likewise, the cold helps ease muscle soreness because it expedites the body’s natural recovery cycle. This is why many elite athletes take cold showers and baths.
-Weight loss: Cold exposure activates brown fat in your body (believe it or not, brown fat is actually the good kind). Brown fat helps you burn more calories, which in turn stimulates weight loss.
Here are some cold therapies to try:
Many spas and treatment centers offer this service, which can include entering a whole-body cryo chamber, targeted treatment with a cryo wand, or a cold plunge. Gloria Morris, owner of Chicago-based Float Sixty, which features many cryo treatments, says cryotherapy is like a modernized version of an ice pack. “We’ve learned from a young age to put an ice pack on an injury. Cryotherapy is like putting your whole body into an ice pack. It targets inflammation and pushes out the stuff that makes you sore.”
This can be a difficult practice to get used to, so start small, making the water cold for just the last two minutes of your shower, then increasing little by little every day.
A combination of snow and yoga, this new phenomenon has gained interest on social media in recent years (see: #snowga). Doing yoga poses in the snow is more of a workout than regular yoga because of the challenge not to slip and fall. The body warms up from the yoga moves, making the cold temps more bearable.
During the winter months, make an effort to go outside for a walk or a winter workout. Just remember to bundle up. As the saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Residents of Nordic countries spend the majority of their time outside, even in subzero temps, because they’ve experienced firsthand how the cold brings health and vitality. Likewise, rather than dread the cold, we should embrace it. Our lives will be all the better for it.
February 9, 2022