A New Way to Improve Your Health: Cold Plunge
Whatever you want to call it—ice swimming, cold plunging, ice baths—cold water swimming has become extremely popular all over the world. Self-improvement enthusiasts vouch for the health advantages of swimming in icy waters.
But are icy dives actually risk-free? Yes, provided you do it properly, is the quick reply.
Let's look at the effects of taking an ice bath on the body, the dangers involved, and how to begin your cold water swimming journey.
When you swim in cold water, what happens to your body?
As you are probably aware, swimming in cold water causes a variety of physical sensations. But what is actually taking place? The following will happen each time you swim in cold water:
Cold shock response
Your brain and nervous system may feel overloaded in the first few seconds of being in cold water, which can cause a cold shock reaction:
Heart rate and blood pressure rising
When you submerge in cold water, your body, particularly your heart, has to work extra hard to maintain homeostasis. Consult your doctor before taking any kind of cold plunge if you have heart problems.
When you first submerge, your skin's nerves will also emit an alarm, telling your body to draw blood inward toward your core in order to retain heat and safeguard your vital organs. Your limbs may at first feel like they are on fire.
Regular exposure to cold water will cause your body to adapt, allowing you to withstand longer exposure times and/or colder temperatures. The intensity of your cold shock reaction will probably also lessen.
If you become accustomed to the cold, you won't shiver as easily, which will allow you to maintain better stroke technique (for those of you who want to engage in full-on ice swimming!).
Be patient; this adaptation takes time. Sometimes it's best to increase your exposure just a minute at a time!
Most people are unaware that 30-45 minutes after finishing their cold plunge, their body temperature will begin to decline. This is known as the "after drop," and if you are unprepared, it could be dangerous.
Your body temperature won't immediately rise after you exit the water. Instead, it might get a little colder before your body can regulate it, giving you extra chills and shivers long after you've finished swimming.
Avoid this by going somewhere warm, dressing in layers, and drinking hot liquids after swimming. Take a hot shower if you're really cold. Wait until your core body temperature has returned to normal before attempting to drive.
You aren't completely safe once the after drop has ended, though. Your body may take four to five hours to fully reheat to normal.
After swimming, if you discover that you're still chilly, wrap up warm, sip warm beverages, and take a hot shower or bath.
When done safely, cold plunging can be an amazing experience.
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