How do I get started with cold exposure?

How do I get started with cold exposure?

If you’re wondering what the options are for starting your cold exposure journey, there are a couple of things to think about:

  • What’s your budget? 
  • What are your needs? 
  • Where do you live? 
  • There are so many ways to embrace the cold. Cold showers, ice baths, cryotherapy, open water bathing (if cold enough). According to science, the top 3 most effective methods are: 

  • Cold water immersion 
  • Including, but not limited to ice baths, and any body of water. This includes your own household bathtub, filled with the coldest water your taps can muster and topped up with a couple of bags of ice to bring the temperature right down. 

    There might be a lake nearby, a very slow-moving river with safe entry and exit points, a reservoir, the sea (if you live close enough to the coast), or even a good old-fashioned lido that hasn’t been kitted out with any heating (the kind that might freeze over in the winter months). 

    If opting for a more remote or wild option, always pay attention to any warning signs about currents, obstacles, or reeds in the water. It’s a very good idea to take someone with you to ensure you don’t run into any trouble.

    When you’re ready to progress to a more technical solution, the ice bath [LINK TO RESI PAGE] is the way forward. There are lots of options out there so explore which is right for you, your space, and your budget. When installed at home, it becomes super convenient to build your practice into your daily routines. We can all be guilty of putting something off, especially when it comes to getting uncomfortable, so having such an accessible solution makes it harder to ignore. 

  • Cold showers 
  • This is the most common and often the most accessible entry point for those wanting to start their cold water journey. Cold showers can gift many of the benefits of cold water immersion (where your body is fully immersed up to the neck) if the water is cold enough and you’re under the water for long enough. As long as it feels as uncomfortable as you can stand, it’s cold enough, but always aim for the coldest it can go. Take the temperature as low as it can go and practice your preferred method of breathwork. 

  • Outside (skin to air) 
  • Our third option is to go into the cold with minimal clothing (e.g. shorts and a thin vest). If cold enough, this method will still render some of the benefits. If you want to take this further you can wet your clothing first. The contact with water speeds up the transfer of the cold to your skin, making it more effective. 

    Apply caution in the cold

    With any of these methods, always apply common sense. Diving into an icy lake is not a good first step, though this is something you can absolutely work towards, and much faster than you think. Whenever you push your boundaries, please remember the importance of having a buddy in attendance who can be on standby if needed.

    It’s your responsibility to ensure you’re doing it safely. You must know your own threshold, and you can only do that by experimenting. So please, be cautious at first. Focus on cold showers or ‘warmer’ bodies of cold water (10°c or over). 

    CWI is the most researched and is therefore thought to be the best method. 

    Heat is transferred four times faster through cold water than cold air and so leaves your body four times quicker. Showers are a combination of the two, so the logic is that if you can’t get in a body of cold water safely then showers are the next best option. 

    We advocate getting the cold any way you can. There are no hard and fast rules to. Experiment, and see what works for you.