If you haven’t tried ice bathing yet, it is time to try it! There’s a growing trend of enjoying the deep heat of the sauna followed by a cold water plunge. In addition to extending the season for using your pool (or other cold water source) there are several health benefits associated with the combination of hot sauna followed by submerging in cold water.
When the body’s core temperature rises in the sauna, and then plunges into cold water, the body receives a “cold shock”. As a result, the sympathetic nervous system is activated and hormones such as adrenaline, norepinephrine and endorphins are released. When the hormones are released at the same time as the respiratory and heart rate increasing, it gives a feeling of euphoria and pleasure.
Experienced cold bathers testify that they feel happier, more fit, have less aches and their ability to cope with stress improves. Ice baths have been a common practice amongst many athletes following their training sessions. Athletes plunge into an ice bath post-exercise to enhance their recovery and reduce muscle pain and soreness. The cold water plunge preceded by a hot sauna enhances the experience and the benefits derived.
With the scientific studies on hot to cold bathing, there is evidence to show that regular cold baths seem to relieve pain, protect against oxidative stress, increase antioxidants in the body and relieve anxiety and depressive symptoms. Studies also report positive effects on blood pressure, the immune system, and sleep. So why not seize the opportunity to take a dip in the cold water next time you are having a sauna. You will feel rejuvenated!
Important note: Anyone with any health risk should consult a doctor before doing cold water plunges.