“Cold is an emotion, and like all emotions, it can be controlled.”
– Wim Hof (AKA The Iceman).
With summer just around the corner, the words “cold shower” become less of an expletive and more attractive as an arrow in your wellness quiver.
Mindful exposure to both water and the cold has been utilised throughout history to optimise mental, physical and spiritual health.
Today, backed by scientific evidence of its efficacy, cold water therapy has flowed out of the recovery regimes of elite athletes to complement many other modern training modalities.
Given the accessible, incremental and lifestyle-oriented benefits of the Tim Robards Method, adaptive cold showers can be a powerful ally on your journey to discover the best version of yourself.
Cold water exposure may promote a number of physical adaptions that can help you get the most from your TRM training routine:
- Fortify your immune response – A number of studies indicate that regular cold showers trigger an increase in the metabolic speed rate and, concurrently, the amount of white blood cells in the body. These blood cells protect your body against diseases. The more resilient you are to pathogens, the more you can live the life you want.
- Enhance your circulation and speed up recovery – An increase in your body’s metabolic rate also translates into improved circulation, which can help to purge lactic acid and speed up the body’s recovery from training. Improved circulation also means better overall cardiovascular health.
While not directly related to nutritional cadence or food quality, research has shown that cold showers directly increase the body’s metabolic rate and stimulate the production of brown adipose tissue (brown fat or “good” fat):
- Brown fat is a specific type of fat tissue that is very high in mitochondria, the “powerhouse of the cell”, which is primarily responsible for converting oxygen and food into energy that our cells can use to grow. The greater the levels of mitochondria in our cells, the more energy (calories) we burn and the more heat our bodies can generate without movement.
- Since exposure to the cold can boost brown fat by 15 times higher than the standard amount, cold showers may be an effective way to promote weight loss, especially when combined with regular exercise.
Where the mind goes the body will follow:
- Increase your resilience to stress – Regular cold showers are similar to exercise in the sense that they impose hormetic stress on your body, leading to beneficial adaption over time. This process is called ‘hardening’ – it’s like weightlifting for your nervous system. There is also a direct correlation between the amount of discomfort you can withstand and the amount of joy you can experience. It makes you think, doesn’t it!
- Get physically and mentally tougher – It takes a certain level of willpower to turn the hot water off and then quiet your body and mind as the cold hits your skin. This kind of self-discipline translates into robustness that benefits all areas of your life.
- Gain a higher state of alertness – The body responds to the cold by taking deeper breaths, decreasing the level of CO2 in your bloodstream and increasing oxygen levels. This response not only wakes you up, but also improves your overall ability to concentrate.
How to take adaptive cold showers
Just like exercise, it’s advised to start slow and build up your cold tolerance over time. Here are a few pointers:
- Week 1 – While taking your regular hot morning shower, turn to full cold for 30 seconds and then back to hot again to finish.
- Week 2 – Finish your regular hot morning shower with 30-60 seconds of full cold.
- Week 3 and onwards – Build up to concluding your regular hot morning shower with at least 3-minutes of full cold.
It’s really that simple!
If you’re up to giving cold showers a go, we’d love to know all about it.
Share your tales with us: @therobardsmethod