If you’re into health and wellness, you’ve probably picked up on a noticeable increase in the number of people raving about the benefits of cold therapy lately. This is hardly surprising when you consider how it has become the biohacking sensation of the moment. I have received countless questions about cold plunges since I started sharing photos and videos from my morning plunge sessions on Instagram five years ago—and with so many benefits across the board, from improved immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular function to boosted energy to being an instant anxiety cure, it’s not hard to see why it’s resonating with so many people. But being on the receiving end of so many comments and inquiries from listeners and fellow cold plungers was also quite illuminating, as it made me realize just how much conflicting information is out there— unfortunately, this is why this practice often gets misunderstood and misappropriated. Cold plunges are not meant to be a “struggle and suffer” kind of experience, let alone an activity that guarantees you’ll be overstressing your body. If you want to experience all the health benefits cold therapy has to offer, you must adhere to the correct protocols and progressions, otherwise, you can do more harm than good. After more than a year of doing intensive research into this subject, I am excited to introduce the comprehensive online multimedia educational course on therapeutic cold exposure!!
Cold exposure is a very popular practice these days, but there is not much guidance on how to do it sensibly, and there is also a lot of hype and misinformation about the subject. For example, people look at Wim Hof’s exploits and wild persona and think, “This stuff is crazy!”.
The truth is that therapeutic cold exposure is a beneficial health practice for everyone, and you can create a routine that is appropriate, appealing, and sustainable for you. It’s not a macho contest to see how much you can suffer and endure, it’s a way to wake up your mind and body and improve focus and resilience against all other forms of stress you face in daily life. It’s also an incredibly helpful tool to have in your arsenal when you consider the fact that we live in a world that makes it so hard to focus. According to Johann Hari, author of the book Stolen Focus, our ability to pay attention as humans has been collapsing for the last century. People literally walk and talk faster than they used to 100 years ago, and now have considerably shorter attention spans (shorter than that of a goldfish!). Clearly, there’s nothing good about having a diminished ability to focus, so steps must be taken to counteract this pervasive societal problem. According to Stolen Focus, the most effective remedy for this problem is to engage in deliberately slow practices like yoga, tai chi, meditation, or even cold therapy, because as Hari explains: “If you go too fast, you overload your abilities and they degrade. But when you practice moving at a speed that is compatible with human nature, and you build that into your daily life, you begin to train your attention and focus. Slowness nurtures attention, and speed shatters it.”
Enrolling in an educational course (as well as simply engaging in “long-form” reading and research as Katy Bowman calls it) is actually one of the most effective, proven ways of building your ability to focus and increasing your attention span. The course features dozens of how-to instructional videos and a 75-page eBook, Take The (Cold) Plunge!, one of the most comprehensive written resources you will find on the subject. Your enrollment gives you lifetime access to the materials and also 1:1 email support to help you dial in your own optimal cold therapy routine.
As someone who has been committed to this practice for the last five years, I cannot overstate just how much of a difference it has made for my health (physically and mentally), and also how much I look forward to it. If you haven’t gotten into the habit of getting into freezing cold water early in the morning, it may sound strange, but once you’ve tried it, you will see why I love it so much. I particularly love to take a cold plunge in the morning because it delivers an instant boost of mood-elevating hormones into the brain (namely epinephrine and norepinephrine) and enhances blood circulation and oxygen delivery throughout the body, all while delivering a potent anti-inflammatory effect. These both provide incredible hormetic benefits, which are brief, natural stressors that make your body more efficient and resilient—just what we need more of in today’s world.
Beyond making you feel less stressed, less anxious, and more calm and content, cold therapy also decreases inflammation and boosts energy and immunity, because exposure to cold temperatures stimulates your body’s production of white blood cells, which can help strengthen your immune system and increase your body’s ability to fight off infection. It’s also a great weight loss tool, and if you struggle with sleep, it can help with that too: studies show that people report experiencing deeper, more restful sleep after practicing cold therapy. It seems to do it all, and it’s one of my essential health practices for a reason.
For years I used a top-opening chest freezer, although I don’t recommend it now that I’ve recently upgraded to a phenomenal, custom-designed unit The Plunge. Now that I get to go into a beautiful tub that is circulating crystal clear, filtered water, instead of stagnant water in the chest freezer, plunging is a lot more appealing. This is especially important when you are talking about something that’s not naturally easy to engage in, believe me! If you are interested in taking the plunge, the folks at Plunge are offering a great discount with code BRAD for $150 off.
Something that anyone interested in cold exposure should note though, is that it does require mindfulness and a certain amount of knowledge. You don’t want to just jump in there and try winging it without any idea of how to do this or how to optimize your experience, otherwise, you could stress your body out too much, or your efforts could be unknowingly interfering with your workouts. You should avoid cold therapy right after a workout intended to prompt hypertrophy. However, I love getting just my legs in there immediately after a sprint workout to promote recovery, and I love a total body morning plunge (including submerging my head at the start). I also recommend finding a sweet spot where the experience is sustainable and not too physically stressful or mentally draining. In the old days, I tried to improve my “cold adaptation” and see how long I could last. I made it six minutes in 38F water in the chest freezer. These days, my Plunge sessions last between 1.5 and 2.5 minutes. Yes, I can stay longer on a dare, but I get all the hormonal and psychological benefits without risking an overly stressful experience with a macho plunge.
I’ve received tons of questions about cold therapy over the last few years from people wanting to know more about how to best engage in this phenomenal health practice. Because of my passion and interest in this subject, I’ve spent the last year doing in-depth research, writing, and creating a comprehensive course that covers the interesting history behind this practice, all of the benefits, the how-to’s (and what not to do!), as well as the history and science behind cold therapy, practical tips I’ve learned along the way, safety considerations that must be acknowledged, how to utilize cold therapy for weight loss, anxiety and unregulated emotions, healthy aging, and more. I am so excited to announce that this multimedia educational experience is finally available here, so please take a look if you want to take the plunge and transform your body, mind, and spirit with this incredible health practice.
For more details about the benefits of ice baths and cold plunging, please see award-winning blogger and peak performance expert Michael Kummer’s detailed blog article 11 Benefits Of Ice Baths and Cold Plunging