Warm showers have no place here. There’s a practice that gives some people goosebumps just thinking about it, while others are so happy they simply can’t get enough of it. Ice bathing is enjoying a lot of hype right now, although it’s far from a new phenomenon. It promises to boost your immune system and unlock previously unimaginable superpowers. No wonder it’s proving so popular! Several studies have already shown that there really is something behind these claims, although the whole superpower thing is more open to interpretation. Have you always wanted to try it? We explain why ice bathing is worth it.
Still not sure whether plunging into icy water is really for you? Our Daily Vitamins provide you and your immune system with everyday support,* whether you’re warm or cold!
Table of contents
What is ice bathing?
When water gets down towards freezing point, then it’s just the right temperature to go ice bathing. You can do this is the cold sea, in rivers or even at home in your own bathtub – just add plenty of ice cubes to cold water. It’s a very different approach, so you need to acclimatize slowly if you want to harness the health benefits that it can offer. Your early attempts are only likely to last a few seconds, but seasoned ice bathers can do it for five minutes at a stretch.
Your ice bathing how-to
If you’re a complete ice bathing novice, be sure not to rush it. Only venture into the cold water for a short time at first. Give your body enough time to get used to the extreme cold. In other words, don’t jump straight into the water, just lower yourself in slowly. You don’t need to put your head underwater. The same goes for your hands, as your extremities cool down very quickly. For ice bathing to really pay off, however, you need to do it fairly regularly, about twice a week. That way it’s not only part of your fitness regime, but also helps you stay in a routine.
Here are a few pointers to help you on your journey to becoming an ice bather:
Start by alternating between warm and cold showers, and then slowly increase the time.
Don’t jump in; lower yourself in gently.
Practice mindful breathing.
Make sure you have the right kind of clothing and keep your head and hands covered.
Don’t overdo it! Listen to your body.
Only go ice bathing if you’re in top health and feeling fit.
Is ice bathing healthy? The scientific view
Ice bathing is about more than just toughening up. Lots of scientific studies now confirm the positive health effects of ice bathing. A scientific paper from 2020 analyzed over 400 studies that looked at this promising practice, and they all agreed: ice bathing really works. Nevertheless, they also point out that certain risk factors, such as diseases of the cardiovascular system, can actually make it dangerous. For healthy people, however, it promises a variety of health benefits when done properly.
The benefits of ice bathing
Ice bathing takes a bit of effort, but it really pays off in the end. The plus points of regular bathing in extremely cold water:
#1 Ice bathing makes you happy
Ice bathing floods your body with happy hormones. This rush of endorphins lowers stress levels, reduces anxiety, helps you cope with worries, and boosts your general well-being, as proven by a Finnish study. What remains is a deep sense of contentment, which sets in shortly after an ice-bathing session.
#2 Ice bathing makes you more resistant to stress
Everyone experiences stress in some form. Indeed, stress isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. Positive stress, also known as eustress, can actually make you more efficient and boost your confidence. The brief, extreme cold that you experience when ice bathing triggers this kind of positive stress response. This trains your body to become more resilient and able to cope with everyday stress in a calmer manner.
For centuries, people have sworn by the benefits of bathing in ice water for this very reason. Ice bathing strengthens the immune system and, according to a study with over 3,000 participants, makes you less susceptible to illness. However, this only happens if you do it regularly, regardless of the rest of your fitness regime. To improve your performance and – in this case – strengthen your immune system, your body needs regular stimulus. You can also support this process by taking a product like our zinc-magnesium complex.**
#4 Ice bathing boosts your willpower
Mind over matter. Ice bathing strengthens both your body and your mind. A study from 2018 demonstrated that it has an extremely positive effect on your willpower and general mindset. After all, it takes a lot of willpower to take on a challenge like this. And that’s something that can prove very useful in everyday situations.
Fancy some free fitness tips?
Sign up for our newsletter and get recipes, workouts, and fitness tips straight from the experts into your inbox.
#5 Ice bathing has an anti-inflammatory effect
Ice bathing releases not just happiness hormones, but also what are known as corticosteroids. These can relieve both acute and chronic inflammation in the body. As such, ice bathing can also be adopted as a preventive measure against diseases caused by long-lasting inflammation.
#6 Ice bathing promotes recovery
This anti-inflammatory effect also has a bearing on recovery after sports. Strength training causes micro-fissures in your muscles. Ice bathing ensures that your body recovers faster, so it’s the perfect preparation for your next workout. Athletes in particular swear by ice bathing after strenuous training sessions. Our Recovery Aminos are the perfect complement to your recovery routine.
#7 Ice bathing boosts your metabolism and can help you lose weight
Are you looking to really kick-start your metabolism? Then it doesn’t get much better than ice bathing. Brown fat cells respond to the ice-cold stimulus and start burning more glucose and fat. Your metabolism runs at full speed after an ice bath, which can also help you lose weight.
Our Shape Shake 2.0 provides additional support by allowing you to replace up to two meals a day with ease, so you can cut down on calories without losing out on important nutrients.**
#8 Ice bathing warms your body and wakes you up
Extreme cold causes the body’s blood vessels to contract. In order to protect its organs, your body then starts pumping blood towards the organs, stimulating blood flow. This generates heat that floods your whole body shortly after you come out of the icy water. At the same time, the change in temperature really wakes you up and provides the fastest energy boost you can imagine – just like our delicious protein bars.
To sum up
Ice bathing is the last word in cool, quite literally. And the science speaks for itself: getting cold pays off. So what are you waiting for? If you’ve never tried it, don’t miss out on this ultimate cold kick.
*Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D both contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system.
**Zinc contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system.
***Losing weight with Shape Shake 2.0: Replacing two meals a day with one Shape Shake 2.0 each meal contributes to weight loss as part of a low-calorie diet. Replacing one meal will help you maintain your weight. The product fulfills its intended purpose only as part of a low-calorie diet. A low-calorie diet must also include other foods. Make sure you drink enough fluids every day. Maintain a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.