Heat and Cold Exposure for Optimal Health

Learn the differences of when to apply heat and cold for your optimal health.

 

 

 

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Heat and Cold Exposure for Optimal Health

Heat and Cold Exposure for Optimal Health

Most people are aware of the practice of using either heat or ice to help with a physical injury. Heat is applied to loosen tight muscles and ice reduces inflammation. But recently, there has been a growing body of evidence and use of these therapies for the entire body and brain. These practices go way beyond the value of relaxation and relief from a pulled muscle. Although steam rooms, saunas and therapeutic whirlpool baths have been around for a long time, the thought of getting into an ice bath for health reasons can be tough to consider. That’s why you need to understand heat and cold exposure for optimal health.

Both of these practices are now being recognized for their ability to lower systemic inflammation, improve cellular health and induce a deeper sense of relaxation, as well as aid in tissue repair, muscle growth and even extend life. In fact, several studies indicate that regular sauna use of three to four times per week can result in a longer and healthier life. An interesting point to note is that regular sauna users have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. Sauna use is a great way to get your heart rate up without exerting physical energy; and it improves vasodilation, which helps lower blood pressure.

As for cold therapy, the evidence is far more compelling than the thought of practicing it. Undoubtedly, the idea of plunging your body into frigid water or exposing yourself to -250 degrees for three minutes (cryotherapy) might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but the facts are still the facts. Appealing more to athletes than non-athletes, cold exposure helps reduce inflammation and speed recovery. It boosts the nervous system in fighting depression and anxiety, and has an excellent effect on cellular health. Although cryotherapy clinics are popping up all over the place and boasting the benefits of cold exposure, up to this point the science shows that it’s not as effective as a good ol’ polar plunge.

As I mentioned earlier, it takes a strong constitution for most people to sit in an ice bath for six to eight minutes, which is the recommended time for optimal results. But if you suffer from inflammation, depression or stress, have poor recovery from exercise, a sluggish immune system or are having difficulty losing weight, you might want to consider it. One option would be to alternate between hot and cold water in your shower. It’s much easier and more convenient than setting up an ice bath. Benefits have been seen in as little as thirty seconds of practice, but to optimize the practice for better results, work your way up to a few minutes instead. That is, of course, if you can handle it.

Disclaimer:

Please consult your health care provider or doctor before engaging in the practices above. It might be dangerous for you if you are experiencing certain health conditions, especially certain cardiac conditions. NEVER go from hot and cold environments that involve baths, pools or other bodies of water alone. Blood pressure drops and blackouts are possible. This being said, please understand that these practices can be extremely beneficial to your health, you simply need to take the proper precautions.

Sources:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/05/01/health-benefits-extreme-hot-cold-temperatures.aspx

https://www.selfhacked.com/blog/reasons-sweating-far-often/

https://www.core3training.com/why-you-should-make-heat-therapy-part-of-your-fitness-program/

https://examine.com/supplements/cold-exposure/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320214.php

About The Author

Matt Kansy RD LLC

 

Corporate Wellness Programs and Education Services 
860.305.9080 
I am a Registered Dietitian (RD) and certified personal trainer and have spent the last 18 years training myself to become well versed in a wide range of healthcare and wellness areas. The foundation of my practice is rooted in the lifestyles of our ancestors. Life before the electric light bulb (effects on sleep) chairs and cars (reduced physical movement) and unhealthy processed foods. I promote and teach about how to prepare and eat nutrient dense real food, get regular physical activity and quality restorative sleep. All in ways that work in conjunction with your current life situation and that can even save you money. By looking to our past and embracing the fundamentals of how humans used to live and combining it with modern-day technical advancements, we can address the vast majority of modern day health issues. By using these lifestyle fundamentals we can successfully treat up to 90% of our modern day illnesses and disease. A healthy blend of technical evolution and ancestral know-how.

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