Cold Plunge Benefits

Cold plunges have surged in popularity in the health and wellness sector, not just with professional athletes but also among anyone looking to energize their daily routine. 

This ancient practice has been revived due to the health benefits associated with cold plunges, from enhancing your mental clarity to boosting your immune system response.

So let's take a deeper look into the benefits of cold plunges to improve recovery and health.

Cold Plunge Benefits

Cold Plunge Benefits at a Glance

Although we will be explaining this in greater detail further below, let's take a quick glance at the six main benefits that you get from taking regular cold plunges.

  • A reduction in inflammation and muscle soreness
  • Improved focus and mood
  • A stronger immune system
  • Faster recovery and better physical performance
  • A faster metabolism and a higher cold tolerance
  • Improved resilience towards stress

A Reduction in Inflammation and Muscle Soreness

Cold Plunge Benefits

One of the reasons why athletes everywhere do cold plunges is because they can reduce inflammation and the onset of muscle soreness after exercise.

DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness usually happens within about one to two days after intense physical exertion, such as weightlifting or other intense physical exercise.

There are studies which show that cold plunging can indeed reduce both muscle soreness and inflammation following a workout.

At the same time, some of the biomarkers of muscle tissue damage also improve after a cold plunge, which leads to faster recovery, something closely related to this point, which we will discuss further below.


Improved Focus and Mood

Aside from the physical benefits, one of the main benefits of taking a regular cold plunge is that it can help increase your overall focus and mood.

First and foremost, taking a cold plunge results in your brain releasing more dopamine, which is known as a feel-good hormone.

Dopamine is associated with feelings of focus, alertness, motivation, happiness, and satisfaction. It’s a brain chemical that makes you feel much better, and cold plunging isn't the only thing that releases it. In fact, the initial act of exercising does so as well.

There is another chemical that your body releases thanks to a cold plunge, which is noradrenaline. Noradrenaline is commonly associated with your fight or flight response, and increased levels of it help to increase memory, alertness, and attention, and may also improve your mood. On the other hand, if you have low levels of noradrenaline, you may suffer from depression and anxiety.

Here we have a study which demonstrates that taking a cold plunge at 57°F caused a 530% increase in noradrenaline levels and a 250% increase in dopamine levels that lasted for many hours.

Here we have another study which reported that those who took cold plunges experienced decreases in confusion, tension, fatigue, anger, and depression while feeling increases in self-esteem and energy levels.


A Stronger Immune System

Cold Plunge Benefits

There is some evidence to indicate that taking cold plunges, or specifically cold showers, can lead to improved immune function. There is one study which was performed in the Netherlands, which had people taking extremely cold showers.

Not only did they experience fewer sick days at work, but there was even an additional 54% decrease in sick days taken if those same participants also exercised regularly in addition to taking cold plunges.

The bottom line is that taking a cold shower of just 90 seconds per day resulted in a 29% decrease in sickness. Although this study was not performed on cold plunges specifically, it does show that exposure to cold temperatures has benefits for the immune system.


Faster Recovery and Better Physical Performance

It may also be the case that cold plunging can help to increase your overall aerobic endurance, strength, and power. For instance, there was one experiment where a group was split into two, one of which took a cold plunge after extreme physical exercise, while the other did not.

When compared to the control group, the cold plunge group showed significantly increased explosive power, particularly related to jumping and sprinting, up to 24 hours after the cold plunge.

It would appear as though this exposure to extreme cold temperatures helps your body recover from physical performance faster, therefore allowing you to perform better regularly.


A Faster Metabolism and Higher Cold Tolerance

Cold Plunge Benefits

Perhaps one of the most impressive benefits that you get from taking a cold plunge is that it helps to increase your metabolism. Recent measurements taken from those in the middle of a cold plunge show that metabolism may increase up to 350%.

Yes, a 350% increase in metabolism only lasts for a very short period of time, so it might not burn all of that many calories.

However, there is evidence to show that repeated exposure to a cold plunge regularly helps to increase brown fat production in the body. Although brown fat might sound like a bad thing, it's not, because, unlike regular body fat, brown fat helps to burn more calories and regulate body temperature.

Therefore, regular cold plunging can help improve your overall metabolism, therefore leading to higher calorie burn, and eventually to weight loss benefits.

Of course, over time, your body will also adjust to the cold better, and your tolerance to the temperature will increase.

Improved Resilience to Stress

Another neat part about taking cold plunges is that it can also help improve your resilience to stress.

In the beginning, you might not know how to deal with the stress of the extreme cold, but as time goes on, your brain and body will learn to adapt.

Learning to adapt to the stress of a cold plunge translates to being able to adapt and manage stress in other aspects of daily life.


Who Should Take Cold Plunges, and When?

Now that we know what all of the benefits of cold plunges are, let's figure out who called plunges our ideal for.

If you want to help improve your overall strength and physical power, you want to recover from workouts faster, you want to gain more muscle, reduce soreness, and reap a variety of mental benefits as well, then taking a cold plunge is right for you.

Now, there are times where taking a cold plunge is more ideal than others. For instance, if you want to gain muscle and strength, take a cold plunge before your workout, but if your goal is to reduce muscle soreness post workout, take your cold plunge after the workout.


Rounding Up

Cold Plunge Benefits

As you can see, taking cold plunges has many different benefits, and if you want to reap all of them, then you need to start cold plunging today!