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Cold showers: What's the ideal ice bathing protocol, and what should AURUM consider?

Cold showers: What's the ideal ice bathing protocol, and what should AURUM consider?

Living longer through cold showers? Sebastian Kneipp already knew over 130 years ago about the beneficial effects of cold exposure. Currently, ice bathing is experiencing a real trend. Explored by neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman and praised by Wim Hof, cold showers offer numerous benefits for body and mind. Discover the verified cold therapy protocol and how it can be combined with your AURUM Training.

How healthy is cold for your body?

Cold showers or ice baths trigger a strong reaction from the body to the cold, which can lead to a variety of positive effects. Dr. Andrew Huberman, a renowned neuroscientist, has extensively researched these reactions and found that cold exposure stimulates the release of endorphins and other neurochemical compounds. These so-called "happy hormones" can lead to improved mood and enhanced well-being. According to Huberman, cold has the following benefits for the body:

1. More energy and focus

When you deliberately expose your body to cold, you unleash an impressive response within your body: A Finnish study in 2008 already showed that both adrenaline and noradrenaline levels increase. This invigorates you, as both are neurotransmitters that activate the cardiovascular system, release important energy reserves, and increase attention. But that's not all – the positive effects persist even after you leave the refreshing ice bath. This increased energy and focus accompany you and can be transferred to other mental or physical activities, such as your training, making you more efficient and focused in everyday life.

2. Strengthen resilience

It's logical that cold showers increase your physical resilience and resistance. But your psyche also benefits: Because each time you overcome yourself to step into cold water, it makes you stronger, more confident, and better equipped to handle challenging life situations. In short, your resilience increases. Dr. Huberman explains this as follows: Ice bathing triggers a "top-down control" over deeper brain centers through the confrontation with discomfort. This way, we train endurance and persistence.

3. Good mood

Better mood through low temperatures? Indeed, cold increases dopamine levels in the blood. This was demonstrated in a study that examined various blood values of test subjects after submerging their heads in cold water. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that belongs to the "happy hormones," and hence, it promotes good mood.

4. Boosted metabolism --> Weight loss

While the body does burn a few calories to warm itself up after cold showers, it's not the decisive point that can help with weight loss. According to Huberman, cold water exposure leads to the conversion of white fat tissue into brown and beige fat tissue. White fat tissue is an energy storage, thus consuming few calories and being associated with negative effects such as inflammation, an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, and other lifestyle diseases. Brown and beige fat tissue have different functions. They are metabolically active and consume more energy. Ideal for weight loss, as it increases your basal metabolic rate.

Learn more tips on how to activate your metabolism:

5. Boost for the immune system and overall health

The immune system is like a muscle. It is strong only when trained. With cold exposures, we do precisely that. Ice bathing activates and trains the immune system. Additionally, there are indications that cold showers reduce the risk of developing diabetes, halt inflammation, improve thyroid function, lower uric acid levels, and contribute to longevity through all these effects.

What should athletes and AURUM exercisers know about cold showers and ice bathing?

Whether athletes or not, there are some people for whom a cold shock is associated with risks: If you have a cold, fever, suffer from adrenal fatigue, or have Graves' disease, it's better to avoid cold training. If you're taking your first ice bath, don't do it alone. The same applies to training in a frozen lake in winter. Safety first, please don't forget. Even if you love competition as an athlete, ice bathing is not a challenge to endure longer, as everyone reacts differently to cold. If you push your body too much, you will feel tired and exhausted afterwards.

Many athletes wonder if taking a cold shower after training is good. For those who want to build muscles, the answer is No, as ice bathing suppresses hypertrophy, i.e., muscle growth. Indeed, ice bathing before training can lead to increased performance.

For your AURUM Training, this means that you should not take a cold shower after training but earliest on the next day, to get the best results from your training. Also, we recommend not taking cold showers right before sleeping, because it wakes you up. There should be at least 2 hours between them.

By the way: Many people start ice bathing in winter due to snow and frozen lakes. However, we believe that summer with its pleasant temperatures is the ideal time for beginners. It takes much less effort to step into cold water or turn the shower to cold when you can warm up in the sun afterward.

Ice bath, cold therapy, or cold showers? What is what?

Cold therapy or cryotherapy is a genuine cold shock for the body. In nitrogen chambers, temperatures of -120 °C are endured for a few minutes. Some professional athletes use this method to train their blood vessels and trigger certain reactions in the body. As this extreme cold slows down inflammatory reactions, the therapy is also used for inflammatory conditions like rheumatism. However, for most people, cryotherapy is not practical for everyday use.

The Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, made ice bathing popular, and here, the name speaks for itself. You step into a tub filled with water and ice or just ice cubes. If you prefer a more natural approach, you can step into a stream or lake in winter. But be careful, never winter swim alone, and especially not with your head under an ice surface. The temperature during ice bathing ranges from 0 to 15 °C. While bathing, pay attention to your breathing. Instinctively, it becomes rapid and shallow, but the opposite is required. Long and deep breaths bring more oxygen into your body.

How to get started with cold showers in 3 easy steps

Cold showers are the practical variant of cold exposure since you don't need a cryotherapy chamber or ice tub. Moreover, it's particularly suitable for beginners. If you currently find cold water a real challenge, start slowly by washing your face with cold water at the sink. Once you no longer perceive the cold as painful, you can start with cold showers. Gradually turn the temperature at the faucet colder. If that works well too, you can try the cold shock shower. First a few seconds at regular temperature, then directly to very cold. Aim for between 1 and 5 minutes under the cold shower.

Dr. Huberman's cold protocol

  1. Expose your body to 11 minutes of cold per week, distributed over 2-4 sessions, each lasting 1-5 minutes.
  2. If you do contrast showers or cold-warm stimuli with a hot pool or sauna, always end with cold. Be cautious, as the contrast between sauna and ice bath can be too extreme for beginners. Feel free to take a few minutes between the two extremes.
  3. Don't dry yourself off, but let yourself dry naturally and shiver, as it further strengthens your metabolism.
  4. Take cold showers in the morning, as it wakes you up better than any coffee. In the evening, cold water exposure can cause sleep problems, as the released hormones keep you awake.






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