Since a ton of people have been asking me about why I sit in the snow in just my shorts, I figured I’d give you guys a comprehensive response and a resource to look back on when all of my excited explanations have faded away.
In episode 2 of the Panoptic Podcast, you’ll learn the following:
What is “Cold Therapy?”
We could define “cold therapy” as exposure to (cold) temperatures that are ~ 6º F below your comfort level, which is typically around 60.8º F (yes I looked it up) for most people.
In this case, more is better. You’ll get bigger benefits with colder temps and longer exposures.
Repeated exposures will allow you to reap the most exciting benefits, so yes, you should do it more than once.
Why does being cold do anything?
One word: homeostasis.
Your body really likes to maintain normal functions, keeping things the same.
In the case of cold therapy, your body will try to maintain a body temperature around 98.2º F, and it’ll do anything to get you there.
What does the body do when I get cold?
The process of responding to cold is interesting, and occurs in a few stages. Essentially, your body increases your metabolic rate in order to generate heat, which can also result in weight loss.
I) Insulative reaction
Your body redirects blood from the extremities to the core, urging you to seek warmth (like curling up), and causes goosebumps.
II) Non-Shivering Thermogenesis
Thermogenesis is basically the generation of heat. Before you start shivering, your body slightly contracts your muscles, generating heat and elevating your metabolic rate ~ 16%.
Your body then diverts blood flow into brown adipose tissue. Brown fat cells burn calories to produce heat, which is why their associated with weight loss.
III) Shivering Thermogenesis
Rapid involuntary muscular contractions, shivering, generates more heat. Fatty acids are utilized for shivering fuel at low intensities.
What are those exciting benefits you mentioned?
The most interesting benefit to me at the moment is the creation of beige fat. Repeated cold exposure causes your body to convert useless storage fat — white fat — into metabolically active beige fat, which is very similar to brown fat. Beige fat, just like brown fat, generates heat, increasing your metabolic rate, potentially leading to fat loss.
No, you don’t have purple fat.
You can read more on how this happens in a previous blog post, here:
Other cold therapy benefits
- Fat loss
- Lower inflammation
- Increased lifespan
- Strengthen nervous system
- Injury healing and improved recovery
- Improved blood sugar regulation
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Improved sleep quality
- Improved immunity
- Decreased perception of pain
- Improved bone health
- Improved will power and discipline
Wim Hof , the cold-therapy master.
Wim Hof, the Iceman, is a dutch dude who we could call the pioneer of cold therapy. He has created the Wim Hof Method based on his three pillars of:
- Cold exposure, which increases brown adipose tissue, burns fat, reduces inflammation, fortifies the immune system, balances hormone levels, improves sleep quality, and boosts feel-good endorphins.
- Breath-work, which increases oxygen levels, leading to increased energy, reduced stress, and augmented immune response.
- Commitment. Patience and dedication will lead to mastery.
Check out his website, download the Wim Hof Method app to learn more, and join the community!
How you can implement cold-therapy
Start slow. If you’re not rushing to check out the Wim Hof Method, then I’d suggest starting with cold showers.
How do you do it? Take your normal shower. Before you get out, turn the faucet as cold as it will go, and finish with 15 seconds of cold water.
Gradually increase your exposure.
Work your way up to 5-10 minute ice baths (this is the most researched technique and seems to have the most potent health benefits).
If it’s winter, go sit outside. Start with 3 minutes, and add time from there. Try to spend enough time out there to shiver!
The cold has been huge in helping me to disconnect from a busy mind, helping to pull myself back into my body and into the present.
For more details, listen to the podcast!
Lastly, I’m not a doctor. This is not medical advice. I’m just a nerd who likes to read research, and I figured I’d be productive by sharing it with you.
I’m a nerd, I know.
I read it so you don’t have to.
ps. If there’s anything you’re curious about, and don’t have the time, patience, or know-how to learn about it, let me know. I’ll be sure to post on it if it’s worth-while, or I’ll answer you directly!
If you’re still reading and want more, please subscribe to my blog. You can also follow my daily doings on Instagram.com/robertbilljr, or find me at Life Time – Schaumburg.
Below, you’ll find links to the studies and articles that I cited!
- Brown University. “Enzyme shown to regulate inflammation and metabolism in fat tissue.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180110220458.htm>.
- Jie Li, Bin Feng, Yaohui Nie, Ping Jiao, Xiaochen Lin, Mengna Huang, Ran An, Qin He, Huilin Emily Zhou, Arthur Salomon, Kirsten S Sigrist, Zhidan Wu, Simin Liu, Haiyan Xu. Sucrose Non-Fermenting Related Kinase Regulates Both Adipose Inflammation and Energy Homeostasis in Mice and Humans. Diabetes, 2018; db170745 DOI: 10.2337/db17-0745
- Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. “Bile acids fire up fat burning.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2018.<www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180116111133.htm>.
- The Wim Hof Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034215/
- How gut bacteria influences body temperature: https://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21679436-body-temperature-seems-part-be-controlled-gut-bacteria-cold-weather
- The Wim Hof Method: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/