DIVE IN AND BREAK THE ICE
Why you should make cold showers part of your morning routine.
There is nothing better than choosing to be freezing cold, am I right? Anyone? I won’t be shocked if you don’t agree – I personally dislike the cold. In fact, I recently wrote in passionate detail about why I enjoy the sauna so much. Sitting in a hot room is much more my style. However, a few years ago I started hearing a lot about cold therapy, and how beneficial it can be for the body and mind, so I decided to dive in and figure out what all the hype is about.
In the course of a week, I heard and read multiple sources talking about the benefits of cold therapy, and whenever something pops up multiple times across multiple sources in a short period of time, I always feel inclined to look into it further.
There were three main influences I can recall hearing about that convinced me to start thinking about the cold more:
Wim Hof: Commonly known as the Ice Man, Wim seems to have single handedly created an entire culture around cold therapy. I first heard him on the Tim Ferriss Show, and not knowing anything about him, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He has an iconic Dutch accent, and talks with a cadence that sounds as if he is just playing around. And in a way, I think he is. He seems to have found a joy and light heartedness in life that is on par with some buddhist monks. That was my first cue that there may be something to his love for the cold.
Wim has pushed his body beyond what most scientists previously thought was possible, including setting a record for the longest distance swam under ice, fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, and the longest time in direct, full body contact with the cold. He’s even gone so far as to climb Mount Everest and Kilimanjaro wearing nothing but shorts and shoes.
Hof (and his research) claims that the cold “starts a cascade of health benefits, including the buildup of brown adipose tissue and resultant fat loss, reduced inflammation that facilitates a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins— the feel-good chemicals in the brain that naturally elevate your mood.” There have been some studies to back up these claims.
Wim is an avid supporter of daily cold showers, and has created a movement around the concept, with thousands of people claiming that they are the key to getting a good start to the day.
Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece: I have been a fan of Laird Hamilton (an iconic big wave surfer) and Gabby Reece (a professional volleyball player) for years. They are icons in their own right when it comes to athletics, relationships (they often speak about being happily married), and overall health and wellness. They developed the XPT Extreme Perfomance Training program which is “designed to stimulate growth in all aspects of human performance through exposure to a variety of natural elements and environments”. Similar to Wim Hof, they incorporated breath work, physical training, meditation, and exposure therapy to improve quality of life.
A core component of their program involves cycling sauna use with cold baths for recovery and as a method to build resilience. Along with working to reduce inflammation and improve immune response, the cold bath forces you out of your comfort zone, and teaches you to become more adaptable.
Tony Robbins: A master at business and life coaching, Tony gives hundreds of live seminars in dozens of countries every year, often requiring him to be on stage for 16 hours or more at a time. For anyone, this would be a draining endeavour, and for 59 year old Robbins, he has had to find methods to keep his own mind and body up to the task. Yes, you guessed it, Robbins also swears by cold therapy.
Tony has a strict morning routine, which involves plunging into a cold pool. He attributes much of his health and energy to the daily cold plunge, saying it helps with inflammation and mood, and his team has written about the power of cold showers on his blog.
After hearing all of this, I decided to start my own, personal 30 day cold shower challenge to see what the hype was about. And it was a grind, at first at least. The last thing I felt like doing was waking up and jumping into freezing water. I always felt amazing when I got out, but it was mentally challenging to build up the courage to get wet.
Things got easier though, and those thirty days turned into the next couple of years, and cold showers have become a critical component of my morning routine. I kept the cold shower in my routine as I have noticed the following benefits:
- An immediate boost in energy, mood, and calm focus that washes over me as soon as it is done and seems to last throughout the morning. I can’t help but throw in a shameless plug here – these benefits are especially apparent when combined with AM YOUTH BOOST.
- I am more resilient. By choice, I step into a painfully cold shower at the start of every day. It is the first difficult thing I do, and I feel accomplished when it is done. It makes all of the next difficult tasks in the day seem more manageable.
- I have developed a higher tolerance to the cold.
- This one may be a stretch, but I have not had any significant illnesses since I started taking cold showers every morning – maybe they are linked, maybe they are not. The research shows that it is a possibility that my immune response has improved as a result of the cold showers.
Jordan DePass is the co-founder of STUNN Collective. He is also a huge fan of all things related to making him feel and perform better, and tends to get lost in daily “side” projects on esoteric topics. Natural nutrition, exercise, and exploring his mind are just a few past times.