Why Getting Cold Can Be So Healthy
No one likes being cold.
I certainly don’t enjoy being cold, and I can’t imagine there are millions of people who enjoy being cold.
Sure, there are people who tolerate it, and there are people who don’t pay attention to how cold it is (I’m thinking of little kids when I write that), but at the end of the day, we all prefer to be comfortable.
Not too hot, and not too cold.
This is why it’s so hard to believe that deliberately exposing yourself to excessively cold temperatures can benefit you.
But that’s what study after study is revealing to us.
Being cold can have some remarkable effects on your body, the kind that you’d actually expect to be able to produce only through some kind of drug therapy.
Recently, after I wrote the article on cold exposure, Dr. Lantelme’s son decided to get a cold plunge at his house.
While he doesn’t have a rigorous scientific protocol backing his use of the cold plunge, he has been experiencing some tremendous benefits, and the research I’m about to point to shows that there’s good reason behind his enhanced quality of life.
What Can Cold Exposure Do For Your Body?
When Dr. Lantelme’s son, Adam, cold plunges, what he does is get inside what looks like a kiddy pool filled with water that’s just about freezing in temperature.
He stays in for just a few minutes and then gets out.
He reports that after getting out, he feels exhilarated (probably because he’s not freezing anymore).
But, it turns out, there’s a lot more going on than just getting warm again.
Check out some of these proven benefits associated with deliberate cold exposure.
1 – It May Boost Testosterone Levels:
Thomas Seager, Ph.D., is the creator of the Morozko Forge, a premium cold plunge (or ice bath).
When he first started cold plunging early in his 50s, he had normal testosterone levels. With a little experimentation (and while adhering to a ketogenic diet), he was able to raise his total testosterone levels to 1180, which is nearly unheard of in a man his age.
His experimentation synced up with a 1991 study conducted in Japan where there were indications when subjects cold plunged before exercise it was able to elevate testosterone levels.
Many people cold plunge after working out, which can help with inflammation, but the research shows that it blunts testosterone levels. Doing right before a workout can help elevate levels to those of a teenager, which is crazy!
His article detailing his experiment can be seen here.
2 – It Can Help Relationships:
Another thing that Seager investigated is how a “couple’s plunging” can help enhance relationships.
Now, there’s no evidence here to show that taking an ice bath together is going to fix a terrible relationship, but as Seager details, there are some exciting chemical reactions taking place when you plunge, and there’s good reason to expect that the outcome of dual plunging can enhance relationships.
“ Positive feelings are characterized by neurochemical signatures. That is, feelings change brain chemistry, and brain chemistry changes feelings. Therefore, when couples feel more loving towards one another, we can surmise that the neurochemical conditions in their brain reflect those feelings.
In Couples Cold Therapy, I [he] described the neurochemical characteristics of the three different brain systems of love:
- Testosterone drives lust in both men and women.
- Dopamine and norepinephrine drive romantic crushes.
- Vasopressin and oxytocin drive attachment bonds, like the type we feel for family members.
Just a few minutes in a cold plunge will stimulate the production of all of these hormones and neurotransmitters, creating these multi-dimensional feelings of love.”
While there are all types of other elements at play in relational satisfaction, being able to elevate “love hormones” plunging at the same time does seem to be a pretty cool “relationship hack.”
3 – It May Improve Reproductive Health:
One of the main struggles modern American men have when it comes to reproductive health is their ability to maintain and sustain an erection.
This problem is so common that it’s behind Viagra becoming one of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the nation.
Turns out deliberate cold exposure can help men maintain better erections.
The way that Viagra works is to actually address insulin resistance, and it temporarily helps overcome insulin resistance. When that happens, it boosts nitric oxide production, and that can send more blood flow to the penis, which helps men get and then maintain an erection.
The problem with Viagra is it doesn’t address the underlying metabolic origins of erectile dysfunction, which is typically an inability to mobilize nitric oxide because the mitochondria in the cells aren’t capable of producing nitric oxide.
Cold plunging can help repair the body’s ability to create more nitric oxide and improve insulin sensitivity, which may result in better erections.
And guess what else… cold plunging may also improve sexual satisfaction.
4 – May Improve Sexual Satisfaction:
Beyond being able to help with men’s erections and on top of helping with hormone output related to pair bonding, there’s also evidence to show that cold plunging can help with overall sexual satisfaction, too.
The Czech Army conducted a study where they took a group of 25 military personnel, seventeen men and eight women, and had them swim for just two minutes in chilly water at 37°F, followed by a series of re-warming exercises.
They did it periodically over eight weeks and the participants reported numerous health advantages, including:
- A reduction in anxiety levels.
- Decrease in waist circumference, indicating a reduction in visceral fat.
- And Enhanced sexual satisfaction.
Seager hypothesized initially that it was a rise in testosterone that caused the improvement in sexual satisfaction but then noted it’s probably also the enhanced sensitivity to insulin.
5 – It Could Help Fight Cancer:
I know we’re all looking for an edge against cancer. Millions, if not billions, are spent studying cancer and how to stop it.
And while there are some promising treatments out there, many of them require drugs to work, which isn’t necessarily ideal.
Cold plunging could be a decent adjunct to cancer prevention.
A study at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute by Yihai Cao found that cold exposure may reduce or prevent tumor growth. Mice with cancer cells were divided into a control group and a group exposed to cold temperatures for 20 days.
The cold-exposed group exhibited significant tumor inhibition and a doubled survival rate compared to the control group.
This effect is linked to the activation of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT), which burns calories more efficiently and increases cell longevity when activated by cold.
BAT activation reduces the tumor’s energy supply by burning glucose and restricts blood flow to tumors, limiting their access to essential nutrients and oxygen.
It stands to reason if you can activate BAT, then you may have a good chance of fighting cancer or not even developing it!
Should You Try This At Home?
Here’s the thing about all of this cold exposure.
One, it’s not always practical to try. People talk about taking cold showers, and those can help, but the water probably doesn’t get cold enough to do much.
Secondly, you have to be healthy enough to do it. If you have a weakened cardiovascular system or other health issues, you might be unable to withstand cold exposure.
And, it may be expensive.
DIY cold plunges cost at least $500, and the better ones are north of $10k.
That being said, there are an untold number of people trying it out, and they’re loving the benefits. There’s more research emerging on cold plunging to support it being great for you.
Adam loves his and reports that it’s one of the hardest things he does, and that’s part of the reason he enjoys it so much.
Maybe you, too, will find you love it?