Orlando, Fla. - Cold plunging has been growing in popularity on social media, but how much does it impact your health? Cold plunges and ice baths are not new cold remedies, but cold immersion therapy has been becoming more and more popular recently. Health experts say there are a lot of benefits if you do it the right way, but it can be very dangerous if done the wrong way.
Troy London the owner of We're Evolving Fitness says it can help you mentally and physically. He offers ice baths at his gym in Winter Park, Florida, as part of their recovery therapy.
"This is one of the trends that’s here to stay because it is positive, and it’s really good for our bodies. It can help with mental fortitude heightened, physical and performance," London said. "If we’re trying to train, we want to stay training, that’s the most effective way to see the results to be able to be in sport. If I’m in sport, and I’m tearing down muscle and tissue we all know icing can help diminish inflammation."
The cold plunge is anywhere from 37 to 60 degrees. London says there's no set time, but would recommend 11 minutes per week total, which could mean three to four sessions per week at three to four minutes per session. But, if you're a beginner, you might want to take it slow, like five minutes per week total.
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A recent study from the International Journal of Circumpolar Health found that cold baths could help burn body fat, lower your diabetes risk, and improve circulation. Medical experts say it could also help speed up your metabolism.
However, some doctors are concerned as videos circulating on social media show people doing ice baths in dangerous ways.
"Especially when you see people doing those in remote lakes, doing them alone, setting up a timer," said Dr. Daniel Miller with Orlando Health. "If you go down into these remote areas, where the water is really, really cold. People can pass out. If you pass out in a body of water there’s a risk of drowning."
Dr. Miller agrees that ice baths can help athletes with muscle aces and soreness, but recommends not staying in the water for too long because you could get frostbite. He also recommends consulting with your physician first.
"There are a lot of benefits of ice, especially with fresh injuries or with someone in the athletic field. There are great anti-inflammatory properties, things that control swelling, but also there can be cardiac and pulmonary repercussions too," said Dr. Miller.
You can make an ice bath at home, too. Coach London says you'll need a tub, thermometer, and bags of ice, but don't forget to listen to your body.
"It’s just trying to make sure you feel comfortable and safe," London said. "I’m not going to tell you what set temperature. It should irritate you, but you can hold it, and you feel safe, so you don’t get hypothermia or anything like that."