If you hate the cold, you’re not alone. There’s something about the hot sun shining on a sandy beach that’s innately more appealing than a frozen wasteland. When humans get too cold our bodies seem to instinctively begin to panic (breathing gets shallow, muscles stiffen, mind races), which makes sense because if we get cold enough, we can of course eventually die. But there is a way to harness this panic and actually use it to elevate our body and mind. This is a form of bio-hacking. Bio-hacking is a fancy way of saying that we can expose ourselves to certain stimuli, or do certain things, that exploit our biology in highly beneficial ways. Some forms of bio-hacking include intermittent fasting, float therapy, meditation, intensive exercise, supplementation, holistic movement, sleep experimentation and, of course, cold exposure.
What is Cold Exposure: My brother, Brad, and I are huge proponents of short-duration cold exposure. This means that you intentionally expose your entire body to cold temperatures for anywhere between 60 seconds and 5-minutes. Some ways to do this are cold showers, polar dips, ocean swims, ice baths or cryotherapy. If you’ve seen us on Instagram (@mayo_bros_calisthenics) then you may have wondered why we are so fond of the chilly Canadian winters. We love cold showers and we often enjoy cutting a hole in a nearby frozen lake and submerging ourselves in the frigid water. It’s safe to say that our bodies have become addicted to the well-being associated with the cold.
Why The Cold is Good For You:The benefits of cold exposure are simply undeniable, but many people find them rather surprising. If you practice cold exposure, you can expect to see some, or all, of the following benefits:
- Strengthened Immune System: “Don’t go outside without a coat! You might catch a cold.” You’ve probably heard this before when you were a kid. Well, it’s not only false, it’s actually the exact opposite of the truth. According to a study done in 1993 by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England, people who took daily cold showers saw an increase in the number of white blood cells (which fight viruses) compared to individuals who took hot showers. Researchers believe that the increased metabolic rate, which results from the body trying to warm itself up, stimulates the immune system and releases more white blood cells in response–which leads to you getting sick less often.
- Improved Circulation: If you want to recover more quickly from tough workouts, having good circulation is vital because it can help reduce muscle inflammation. Cold water causes the blood to rush to your organs in an attempt to raise your internal body temperature–this, in turn, improves your overall circulation.
- Combats Depression & Elevates Mood: This might seem hard to believe. But there is a certain kind of natural and happy high that comes from being cold, and it almost needs to be felt to be believed. Research at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine indicates that short cold showers may stimulate the brain’s “blue spot”– the brain’s main source of norepinephrine — which is a chemical that can help combat depression. Not only can cold exposure put you in a better mood, it can also make you feel more confident and resilient due to the fact that you’re enduring a difficult challenge.
- Boosts Testosterone: You heard right; contrary to popular belief, taking a cold shower to get your mind off sex can actually have the opposite effect. This boost in testosterone also boosts your libido.
- Increases Natural Energy: The only thing that wakes me up better than a cup of black coffee is an ice cold shower or a swim in the freezing lake. The cold puts your body into survival mode, that means you become very awake, alert and hyper-aware of your surroundings.
- Good For Hair & Skin: The cold closes up your pores, which can help with acne, itchy skin and dry hair.
- Get More Fertile: As you may know, heat is not good for your sperm count. Studies have shown that cold exposure can increase the number of sperm in your testicles.
How To Practice Cold Exposure
Now go get cold and get bold!
John Mayo is one of the Mayo Bros, whose main goal is to help people achieve a new level of fitness and healthy living. By using bio-hacks and flexible, natural movements, the Mayo Bros are dedicated to helping people fulfill their ultimate potential.