What are the benefits of cold water therapy?

May 16, 2024 | 3 Min Read

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Cold water therapy is emerging as a popular health trend. This wellness practice involves immersing your body in cold water, often with the addition of ice, for a short period of time. Cold plunges, cold showers, ice baths, and winter swimming are all types of cold water therapy. While cold water therapy has been practiced for hundreds of years, the scientific study of its effects is still relatively new. 

However, a growing body of research suggests cold water therapy may have various health and wellness benefits. These include:

  • Speeding up recovery after exercise which is why so many elite athletes are fans of ice baths. Cold water therapy reduces inflammation and soothes soreness, aiding in muscle recovery and joint pain after physical activity.
  • Reducing depression, anxiety and stress: Cold water therapy may help boost your mood by increasing dopamine production, and potentially reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • Promotion of fat-burning and weight loss: When practiced routinely, cold water therapy can boost your metabolism, as your body needs to work harder to keep warm. 
  • Improved circulation: Exposure to cold water can cause your blood vessels to constrict and dilate, which leads to improved blood circulation and better heart health.
  • Boosting your immune system: Some researchers believe that exposure to cold water can help improve your body’s immune system to fight sickness. 
  • Increased energy levels: Exposing yourself to cold invigorates your mind and body, making you feel alert and energised. 

It's important to remember that your response to cold water therapy may vary. As with any new health or wellness practice, you should approach cold water therapy carefully and seek medical advice if you have any health concerns. Here are some safety considerations if you decide to try cold water therapy: 

  • It’s important to speak with your doctor first to make sure cold water therapy is safe for you.  
  • Start slow. It is recommended to gradually introduce yourself to cold water therapy to allow your body time to adjust. A temperature of about 15ºC is considered safe. 
  • Staying in cold water during a shower or swim should be brief. You only need a few minutes to get the health benefits of this therapy.
  • Warm up after a cold plunge outdoors. Dry off with a towel, wear warm layers, and rest somewhere warm or walk around to raise your body temperature.  
  • If you plan to swim in the sea or a lake, always make sure someone accompanies you.

According to a study conducted in the Netherlands, those who spent anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds taking a cold shower had a 29 per cent reduction in sick days off work compared to those who never took a cold shower.


You can start to incorporate cold water therapy into your wellness routine by switching your warm shower to cold for 30 seconds at the end to get your body used to the feeling and the initial shock, or you can fill your bath with cold water and ice, and submerge yourself for a few minutes, gradually increasing the time as you become more accustomed to the cold.

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