Some health problems demand regular clinic runs but others require a completely different approach altogether. Cold water therapy is one such approach that has become popular among wellness advocates.

Cold water exposure is said to have several mental and physical benefits. It may help those struggling with stress, depression and lack of energy.

What is cold water therapy?

Cold water therapy, also known as cold immersion therapy or hydrotherapy, involves taking a daring plunge into water that has a temperature no higher than 15 degrees Celcius.

Though coming into contact with the frigid waters can give a panic attack at first, the body soon adjusts to it. A report published in the New York Times suggests that it helps by reworking the brain chemistry. The method taps into the brain's happy chemical dopamine and reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which alleviates stress.

What are the benefits of cold water therapy?

Reduces inflammation: The method has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which reverses any kind of pain and soothes the muscles. This is because the cold shock decreases levels of interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), a signaling molecule that promotes inflammation.

Improves circulation: The technique improves blood circulation by constricting the blood vessels and driving out the metabolic waste, thereby supplying muscle tissues with fresh, oxygen-rich blood.

Increases energy: A cold plunge could cause a release of adrenaline, which boosts energy levels. This also leads to improved mental clarity and focus and helps combat fatigue.

Boosts immune system: A 2016 study published in the journal Plos One suggests that cold water has a positive impact on immunity. Cold water exposure boasts better immunity than others.

There are some risks associated with cold water exposure, including hypothermia, arrhythmias and cardiac arrest. It is therefore necessary to keep your cold plunge sessions short and follow proper medical guidance before opting for it.

The cold baths should not exceed 15 minutes, says John Gallucci, a medical coordinator for Major League Soccer, according to Everyday Health.

Frozen lake
Frozen lake