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5 Reasons to Take an Ice Bath

By Chris Brown

We all know the power of a warm bath to relax and promote inner well-being, but a worldwide fitness craze over the past decade has been the less-soothing, cold temperature bath. Ice, or cold water, baths are touted by many, from professional athletes to successful businesspeople. The research supports a case for the cold dunk, but it is still a topic requiring further study. What does exist is growing evidence that cold baths do more than just chill your bones.

There are five study-backed bodily reasons why you should try the occasional ice bath:

  • Aids post-workout recovery (maybe) - The "maybe" is due to a 2017 study that did not find significant post-exercise recovery benefits from ice baths. However, ice bath research is still growing as two studies (from 2011 and 2016) found, inversely, that athletes were less sore if exposed to cold water therapy after exercise.
  • Improves immune system functioning - Cold water immersion activates the immune system to allow it to better respond when faced with a foreign invader. Additionally, long-term daily cold exposure has been shown to improve antitumor immunity in various studies.
  • Supports mental health - Case studies have presented evidence that weekly cold-water swims or twice-daily cold showers decreased depressive symptoms in patients. Weekly cold-water immersion allowed one patient to stop her psychiatric medication and prevent future depressive episodes.
  • Boosts metabolism - Cold-water immersion can physically change the behavior of fat cells. To keep you warm during the shock of cold water, your body converts fat cells into heat energy, a process called thermogenesis. If cold immersion is regular, the body will start keeping new fat cells for thermogenesis, increasing metabolism and lowering permanent fat storage.
  • Strengthens the nervous system - When you emerge yourself in cold water, it triggers a natural fight-or-flight response that helps to strengthen the nervous system. Since the fight-or-flight response becomes triggered in daily stresses, building resiliency using cold water makes your system react more appropriately to normal life stressors. The vagus nerve, linked to the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, becomes trained when you develop fight-or-flight resilience in cold baths.

The benefits of a cold bath may just inspire the most hesitant to take an icy plunge. After all, it is recommended that bathers only submerge for 10 - 15 minutes with the temperature between 50 and 59-degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, an ice bath session will be over before you know it, bringing strengthened bodily systems and a brighter outlook.

Many ice baths benefits, such as inflammation reduction, immune system function, and central nervous system strengthening, can be enhanced with a trip to the chiropractor. The Joint Chiropractic offers affordable adjustments for walk-in patients. Its open door policy gives you the flexibility to stop in for treatment as a part of your wellness routine.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lake Forest, Calif.

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