The POWer of H20 - Cold-Water Immersion

posted Jun 5, 2018, 7:24 PM by Walk Strong Calgary
Have you ever splashed really cold water on your face first thing in the morning? It's something I've been doing for years and while it may seem a shocking way to wake up, it feels fabulous! International speaker and best-selling author Tony Robbins takes it a giant step further... his morning routine includes submerging his entire body in a pool of water that's at a temperature of just under 14°C (about 57°F). The average temperature of a swimming pool is 25-28°C (77-82°F). While it may seem a bizarre way to wake up, there are some surprising benefits to cold-water immersion, particularly when it comes to recovery after exercise. 

According to Tony's website(1), cold water immersion improves lymphatic circulation, boosts the body's natural healing powers (relieving symptoms of many medical conditions), can help treat depression, kicks up the metabolism (which means increased weight loss), and more. Australian Sports Conditioning examined the potential benefits of cold-water immersion as a recovery regime after exercise(2). Recovery is when our body repairs tissue and replenishes muscle glycogen. While the research indicated that immersion did not decrease the inflammatory response of muscle tissue to exercise, subjects did report a decreased perception of muscle soreness. In another study, subjects recovered force and power production more quickly than those who did not use the therapy. Other research showed improved lactic acid recovery when cold-water immersion was used following participation in an intense anaerobic exercise session. Researchers recommend 1-2 minutes of submersion repeated 3-4 times with 30-second breaks at a water temperature of 10-12°C (50-53.7°F). 

As you can imagine, it can be a challenge to condition your body to handle cold-water immersion. It makes me think of swimming in the lake up north when I was a kid. That initial plunge was the hardest... but once you got up the nerve and just went for it, it was invigorating! Before you fill up your bathtub with cold water after your next workout, however, check with your doctor to see if cold-water immersion is for you. 

Nancy Ehle is Founder & CEO of Witness 4 Fitness in Calgary, Alberta Canada. She holds several certifications in the fitness industry, including Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach and Master Walk 15® Instructor through organizations such as the American Council on Exercise and Walk at Home®.  Walk Strong Calgary is a division of Witness 4 Fitness, focusing on low-impact group exercise programs suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 
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