Cold therapy is an under-appreciated aspect of wellness. Yes, I know that it sounds difficult, scary, and uncomfortable. But if you choose to do so, will quickly bear the fruits of your labour. Let me explain why and how.
Cold therapy is not a new trend. Rather, throughout history we humans have been subject to it - usually out of necessity. Before the time of heating and air conditioning, humans had to bear their environment no matter how cold it was. This may have been uncomfortable, but it definitely built resilience that the majority of us lack in our 24C world.
The history of cold therapy goes back as far as 2500 BCE, when the Egyptians used cold water to treat injuries and inflammation. There's a reason that when we have an injury, the first thing we do is rush for an ice pack: cold is one of the most effective treatments to inflammation in the body, be it acute (sudden) or chronic (long term) inflammation.
Research shows that, among other things, cold exposure:
1. Converts inactive white fat to active brown fat
2. Increases whole-body metabolic rate
3. Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety by 50%!
4. Pain relief and accelerated muscle healing
5. Weight loss and improved circulation
6. Preventing dementia and Alzheimer's disease
7. Treating migraine headaches
8. Improving symptoms of eczema
This is my absolute favourite way to get a little cold. As an avid swimmer, I love how it combines the benefits of cold and exercise in one. In the summer time in India, pools are not really cold. In the winter months of December and January however, many times pools double-down as effective cold therapy. Give it a shot! (You can have a warm shower afterwards!)
Cold shower/dip or hot/cold showers
They include alternating the temperature from hot to cold, back and forth, for a fixed duration.
Ice baths are a fantastic way to reap the benefits of cold exposure. However, it involves time and planning. If you have a tub at home, try this chilling option.
If you're the adventureous kind and live in or visit a place where it snows and the lake surfaces freeze, then this is an exciting option to try.
Exercising in cold weather or exercising with fewer articles of clothing
If you live in India, this would be a little difficult. However, if you exercise in the morning it is a good idea to wear shorts instead of sweatpants, and half-sleeves instead of full-sleeves.
Another simple idea could be to apply an ice pack or cold pack to any part of the body, especially the face and forehead.
Note: as a general rule, listen to your body. If you have never done cold exposure, ease into the process. Push yourself, but only to a certain extent.
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