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Cold Baths & Beyond - The Ultimate Chill Pill

Fat Burn. Anti Aging. Anti-depressant. These are just the tip of the iceberg! Trainer Cheryl Coppa spills the icy details on cold baths, and why you should NEVER do them after a workout.


Are cold baths good for you?
By Cheryl Coppa

Surely you have come across this as it has been trending here in the U.S. - Cold Plunging or cold exposure therapy. It’s not new at all! Ice baths go way back. Ice baths date as far back as 3500 BC with the Edwin Smith Papyrus (ancient Egyptian medical text). The Ancient Greeks utilized cold water therapies for relaxation.  Hippocrates has documented the use of cold for medicinal purposes and analgesic benefits. Thankfully, our understanding of ice baths has increased dramatically. There are SO many studies on all the numerous benefits of cold exposure, and I’m going to share some of them with you here, in particular, how it is beneficial for women over 40.

With so many benefits and minimal time investment, isn't it worth exploring and trying out? It is completely free! I know the idea of getting into a cold shower or an ice bath sounds horrible. I know, this was me. My head can always get the best of me if I let it before I take the plunge. 

The Well-Researched Benefits

As your body is exposed to the cold, your blood vessels constrict and all your blood gets pushed towards your organs and your brain. Really to save your life, your body does not know how long it is going to be exposed to these cold temperatures. As a result, your blood acquires more oxygen and becomes super nutrient-rich. Then, afterward, when you come out of the cold as your body works to restore its natural temperature, your blood vessels expand. When your blood vessels expand, this nutrient-oxygen-rich blood flows back into all your tissues and flushes out the inflammation. 

FAT BURN

I mean this is really why I started to do it. Help skim off the stubborn fat that sticks around. On our body, we have white fat and brown fat. Brown fat is the one that you want, it is rich in mitochondria (the power plant of your cells) and can generate heat by burning calories. When you expose your body to cold, the body browns its fat. It turns the white fat into brown fat, it activates the brown fat to help maintain your body temperature. So by this process, you are burning more calories! You are also elevating norepinephrine which boosts your metabolism. No need to read anymore, right? SOLD! But keep reading, it keeps getting better 

“Start with just your face. Take a big bowl of ice water and plunge your face in there. An easier way to introduce yourself to the cold.”

ANTI-AGING FOR SKIN

Yes! Cold water exposure tightens your skin. This can help with wrinkles, dullness, and puffiness. This occurs because as we described above with the contracting of blood vessels and then opening again inflammation is driven out and oxygen is flushed through. It is even a practice just to do this with the face. Take a big bowl of ice water and stick your face in there. An easier way to introduce yourself to the cold. 

ANTI-DEPRESSANT 

This happens immediately! Go ahead, try to come out of a cold plunge grumpy, it just won’t happen. Your body is flooded with those feel-good, happy chemicals once it comes out of the cold exposure. 

The following statement is straight from PUBMED :
“At the biochemical level, whole-body exposure to cold triggers a release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, cortisol, dopamine, norepinephrine and B-endorphin, which play a crucial role in emotion regulation, stress regulation, and reward processing.” 

There was also a study that took place in Britain in 2020 that reported swimming in the cold ocean water reduced depressed mood up to 10x as much as it did in a group of controls who just watched the swimmers from the beach.

IMMUNE HEALTH 

I know what you are thinking. We grew up hearing it: “You’ll catch your death put a coat on” “You’ll catch a cold”. 
The fact of the matter is, when you expose yourself to cold, the shock of cold water will increase your white blood cells (lymphocytes) that help fight off infection. There has been a study of cold water swimmers vs. warmer water swimmers and the cold water swimmers had 40% less respiratory infections. 

INFLAMMATION 

We all have it, but having too much leads to so many pains and illnesses. Scientific research suggests that cold exposure can help reduce some of the biomarkers of inflammation. Ranging from something as simple as sore muscles to more serious conditions, such as autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. This is a particular STUDY done on rheumatoid arthritis. 
As we described at the beginning, your blood rushes to surround your internal organs and is in fact exercising your blood vessels in the process.  

“Boosts your mood, tightens your skin, burns fat and boosts your metabolism, boosts your immune health, improves brain fog, and improves focus and mood. Helps with sleep, and helps with inflammation - It is very cool :)”

REDUCE MENOPAUSE SYMPTOMS 

Peri-menopause and menopause come with their set of struggles, many of which we listed above. therefore, adding a cold plunge can help with so many different symptoms, the literal chill pill. It is very cool. Boosts your mood, tightens your skin, burns fat and boosts your metabolism, boosts your immune health, helps with sleep, and helps with inflammation. Because of blood vessels constricting and then expanding, you are getting great oxygenated blood flow all through the body and the brain, so this is also going to improve brain fog and improve focus and mood. And, can’t forget the buzzword CORTISOL! In one STUDY participants who took cold showers had a significant decrease in their cortisol levels compared to those that took hot showers. 
There are so many more benefits, these are my favorite! 

*How do You Begin?

I want to note for all my fitness goers, that this is not something you do after your workout! Since cold water exposure decreases inflammation, you will want to wait until hours past a workout. So if you work out in the morning, maybe do this in the evening or night, or on the days you do not work out. After we work out, we do have inflammation in our muscles which is part of the process of those muscles growing and getting stronger, so we don’t want to undo your work there. So no cold plunging after a workout. Before is great, or later in the day, or on the days you do not work out. 

Slow! Start slow. In the shower, have the cold water run down your back, not necessary to put your head under the water in the cold shower or cold bath. Focus on the body, as much of it as you can.
The very first time I did this, I stood under a cold shower for 30 seconds. My husband started doing the cold exposure with showers and challenged me to do it. He didn't think I could (or as he will say, that’s how he gets me motivated ). I know, I can do anything for 30 seconds! I birthed 3 kids and I work out. I know I can do anything for 30 seconds. 

That first time, it takes your breath away and your heart races, it’s just a total shock! But as with any stressor you expose yourself to, you always come out stronger and more resilient. 

I just use my bathtub at home now (click here to see). After mastering the 30 seconds under a cold shower, I transitioned to the bathtub. Just filled it with cold water, as cold as it could go, and went in for a minute. I have now built myself up to 4 minutes, 3x a week, and I now also add ice. 

Every time I would increase, I would increase the time by 30 seconds. Because, I have the mindset that I can do anything for 30 seconds, and so can you! 

Based on research to get the benefits you want, the water needs to be 40-50 degrees. 
The colder the water, the shorter your time of exposure can be. Research also suggests 11 minutes a week to get all the physical and neurological benefits.  
So, you can even just do this for 2 minutes 5-6 days a week for these incredible results! 
2 minutes!!! 

“Aging is the aggressive pursuit of comfort meaning that the faster we pursue comfort the faster we age.“ - Gary Brecka, human biologist. 


How true is that statement? We often say and hear things like: Don’t go outside because it's too cold, don’t work out, you will hurt yourself, don’t pick that up I’ll get it for you, and so on. When you expose your body to certain stressors, it adapts and comes back stronger. 

Cold exposure is FREE with a long list of benefits and truly just a fraction of your time.
The secret to thawing out your worries.

*It is extremely important to use ice baths with caution. Start slow and check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to give this a try and remember to avoid cold exposure after lifting weights or doing a workout.

 

About Cheryl Coppa


✔️ A certified Core Confidence Specialist (Core and Pelvic Floor retraining)
✔️ A certified Personal Trainer specializing in women's fitness over 40
✔️ Low-Pressure Fitness / Hypopressive certified by creator Dr. Tamara Rial
✔️ Pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist
✔️Instructor of the Pelvic Floor Health program, Ola Ka Ola
✔️ 41 years young, wife & mother of 3
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