Social media is celebrating ice water baths and plunging into cold waters. Even celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kristen Bell, and Harry Styles have declared the benefits. According to them, the ice water bath is mentally uplifting and reduces inflammation. Many have been following this trend to elevate their moods and to feel rejuvenated.
The trend started when the ‘The Great Lake Jumper’, Dan O’Conor jumped into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan. He started this trend in June 2020. According to him, it has now become a daily habit. Even in adverse weather conditions, the veteran finds time to take a dip in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.
How Scientifically Proven Are The Benefits?
Those who consistently jump into cold waters claim that it has many benefits. Some of these include an overall mood improvement, reduced inflammation, an increase in energy, and even weight loss. Even though many are claiming benefits, science says some of them are purely lukewarm. Those claims are true to some extent, and some are yet to be understood and studied in detail.
But whatever Science says, people like O’Conor are damn sure about its benefits. O’Connor explained that the experience was worth it when he took a plunge into the cold waters at a frosty 23-degree (minus-5 celsius). The adrenaline rush that accompanied him revitalized his body.
This cold water plunge of O’Conor started during the pandemic when his wife, who was angry with him, told him to “go jump in the lake”. He remembers the experience as one of a kind. From there on, he has never taken a break from jumping into the icy cold waters. According to O’Conor, his mental health has improved.
Even experts like Dr. Will Cronewett, Chief of Psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg Medical School, have approved some of the benefits of cold-water immersion. From his own experience, the process can lift your moods. But no scientific data has been made in this regard. This is because arranging a placebo for the experiments with cold water immersion can be difficult.
Still, Dr. Cronewett has agreed that the process can alter some brain mechanisms like fight-or-flight responses. Even some Czech researchers have found similar results with ice water bath. They have found that plunging into cold water can increase the happy hormone, dopamine, by 250%.
Jumping into cold water can also improve heart health and metabolism. But at the same time, doctors warn that people who are under threat of any heart condition shouldn’t plunge into cold water without expert guidance. Also, cold water immersion has been found to by altering insulin response. Anecdotal research also has found that it can enhance white blood cell production and thereby increase immunity.
But whatever the case, the lack of solid scientific studies in this field has raised some concerns and that makes the benefits claimed by cold water dip into a lukewarm status.