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Our last post was all about ice for injuries, you can check it out here. This week,  I wanted to take a look at the recent research regarding cold immersion. Cold Immersion is boasted to aid in recovery, increase immunity, and be the cure all for everything sports, but what does the research say? What kind of studies are around these large claims?Untitled design (2)

Does cold water immersion aid in workout recovery?

One interesting study by Peake et al, showed that despite anecdotal claims, cold immersion does not “significantly reduce inflammation or cellular stress with muscles after exercise”. This was in comparison to active recovery as low intensity cycling for 10 minutes after exercise, versus cold water immersion for 10 mins after exercise. Good points were made that it may have been better to compare it to rest, but as the authors refuted, it is unlikely to find sedentary athletes. They further concluded in a separate study that the regular use of cold immersion will decrease potential strength gains from exercise. It was not all negative outcomes however, the authors also referenced other studies showing some potential short term benefits when used periodically by athletes.

A second article found was a metanalysis. This looked at cold water immersion, contrast hydrotherapy and the comparison to other common modalities such as stretching, compression, or active recovery. In essence, it found that in comparison to nothing, contrast hydrotherapy was effective at aiding in recovery, however, when compared to other modalities, it faired more or less the same. Concerns about study sizes were an issue and it was concluded that high quality research is lacking to provide conclusive evidence. Other research and studies I came across presented similar information and were either flawed in design or too small of a sample size to present as a valid conclusion.

So, what does this mean for athletes looking at cold water immersion and recovery? Essentially it may be better than nothing, but probably is not a magic bullet. It can be utilized as part of a recovery method, but take into consideration your personal performance under the use of this method.

Does cold water immersion prevent illness???

Cold water immersion has also been boasted to promote immunity with use. The use of cold showers is definitely a growing trend. There is limited research in this area unfortunately, but one study suggested that regular old water immersion (3x per week) for 6 weeks did provide an activation of the immune system. There was not enough research in this area to provide implications for this information.

Discussing Cold water immersion without at least mentioning the Ice Man (Wim Hof) would be lacking. For those that are unfamiliar, Wim Hof is a Dutchman who holds world records for cold water immersion length and can be seen on the internet wandering around on mountains in shorts. The research I came across regarding him and cold water immersion was inclusive of his breathing method and while interesting is not included here.

In conclusion, the use of cold water immersion may have it’s use in both recovery and immunity but further research is needed to provide details. It is also notable that similar results are found in regards to contrast which is often considered more comfortable. Start hot and end cold! Developing a personalized recovery routine will likely have some personal preference and trial and error. To learn more about recovery methods subscribe and check back soon!



1)      Make a habit of not taking the easy route: Most people will wait for someone to pull out of that front spot in a a parking lot so they can take it and get into the store as quick as possible. Don’t be that person. Park further away and get a quick walk into your location. Same thing goes with elevators. There is no good reason (assuming capability) that you should take an elevator up one floor. Take the stairs! Another idea is, if you can use a hand basket instead of a cart while shopping, go for it!

The mind set of training over working out is highly beneficial.

The mind set of training over working out is highly beneficial.

2)     Don’t think exercise, think training: Mindset is extremely important. When someone asks me, “how often do you work out”, I say rarely, if ever. However, I do “train” about 6 days a week. Of course it is just a play on words, but there is some meaning behind it. People often think of “working out” as an activity done specifically to lose weight or get six pack abs and personally I never do that. I set goals and work daily to achieve them. The healthy management of weight and gain of lean muscle mass is just a cool side effect. For example, the goal I achieved to the right took a really long time to reach! Setting goals gives you something to focus on and create “work outs” around. Maybe you want to run a 5k? Or maybe you want to achieve a specific movement like a strict pull up? If you build your training schedule to achieve these specific goals, you will increase fitness levels while achieving these new skills.

3)      Get a partner or join a group: Some people love fitness groups to get motivated. For example, CrossFit or Yoga are large group fitness classes. Classes usually have around 10-40 people and this can create a great environment to encourage fitness.  A group or partner setting can easily be applied to any fitness situation. Training partners not only encourage you to reach fitness goals, but also can hold you responsible on those days where sleeping in or hitting the couch instead of training sounds good.

Go For a Hike4)      Find active activities you enjoy:  It’s no big surprise that not everyone enjoys the daily grind on a treadmill or hitting the weight room. In fact I’m that guy too! That is completely okay, but find something active you can enjoy. Don’t like a treadmill? What about hiking? Or golfing (walk the course!). Finding hobbies that are active will provide you exercise outside of hitting the gym. Who knows you may even find an activity that lets you look at gym time as training.



5)      Avoid negative reinforcements:  Becoming healthy is all about lifestyle changes and not temporary fitness and diet trends. Part of that can be making changes to habits that reinforce behaviors that won’t help you reach your goals. One example is “happy hour”.  Red wine in low amounts can be good for the heart and have antioxidant value, but more often than not, happy hour means cheap beer or high sugar beverages along with calorie laden appetizers. Hate to break it to you but they aren’t helping your heart or your fitness goals! Skip happy hour and grab a friend for a walk, run, or dance class instead!

6)      Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty: Not many of us like chores but, they can be a good way to stay active. Mowing the lawn, tending the garden, and even doing laundry can play a part in your fitness. Yard work is hard work!

7)      Don’t sit all day: It is all too easy to get stuck at the desk staring at a computer for hours on end. We are all guilty of it. It is important to take time once an hour to get up and walk around. It is the perfect time to go to refill that water bottle you have been using to stay hydrated (see what I did there?). Another great idea is don’t have lunch at your desk. Take 30-60 minutes and go for a short walk. Eat outside if the weather allows. Getting that extra movement will also help recharge you for the second half of the work day without needing a pick me up.

8)      Create a routine: And stick to it! This can be huge for developing great fitness. You don’t have to go Type A about it, a broad routine is okay. For example, I make a point of going hiking at least once a week. Sometimes it is a whole day, sometimes it is just an hour or two but, I get out there for a good hike.  Even if I only have one day off that week, I carve the time out of that day to do this activity and make it a priority. You can do the same. You can also be more specific with a training plan and come up with an agenda that you want to go to the gym 5 days a week, three days cardio and two days strength training.  The routine is up to you, but make sure you can commit to it. Start with a realistic and attainable plan. It will feel better to be able to commit to your routine and even be able to surpass it rather than feel like you are falling short because it is too much.  Remember the importance of mind set!

9)      Cook at home: When you make meals at home you have total control about what is in them. When you eat out all the time you don’t always know what is snuck in there to get that rich flavor. Ever wonder why when you attempt to recreate a meal it doesn’t turn out the same as the restaurant? To be honest you may not want to know. Limit eating out and you may find success in the kitchen!

10)   Have your health team in line: Those who are really fit usually have a health team in order. Look at a professional athlete. These individuals have athletic trainers, coaches, physical therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, nutritionists, and chiropractors depending on what they find most useful. They do not just go to the doctor when something goes wrong, they see health care practitioners to prevent something from going wrong and to stay their best!

What kind of things do you do to keep active and fit? Leave a comment below! And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook for lots of other great tips!

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