Athletes have been soaking themselves in ice baths for decades to fight delayed-onset muscle soreness or the tendency to start feeling sore and cramped the day after a major workout.
Research has shown bathing or swimming in cold water can have other health benefits:
Immersing yourself in cold water triggers production of white blood cells as your body adjusts to changing conditions. Over time this helps your body’s immune system respond more quickly and effectively to threats.
Exercising in colder weather has been shown to boost conversion of unhealthy subcutaneous adipose tissue to brown adipose tissue, or “brown fat.” This kind of fat specializes in producing heat and warming the body and sheds calories almost entirely from the bad fats.
Your body reacts to cold water by sending blood and lymphatic hormones rushing to warm your core and its essential organs, flushing through your entire circulation system in a way it often doesn’t. This helps train your body to do this more frequently.
Anecdotal evidence and some research finds taking a plunge into cold water leaves people feeling invigorated and better able to handle stress. This likely is due to an influx of stress hormones that “wakes” them up as well as dopamine with its mood-boosting and pleasure reward associations.
These Northern Arizona locations
have great opportunities for
winter swimming adventures but
are subject to weather-related closures.
• Prescott National Forest
Lynx, Mingus, Granite Basin and Horsethief Basin.
• Slide Rock State Park
This Oak Creek landmark has been known to attract a few hardy “polar bears.”
These can be great experiences if you swim with caution. Some studies have shown the cold water response peaks at 50 to 59 degrees, so it doesn’t need to be icy for you to see some benefits.
Water that is 50 degrees or colder is considered to be an “extreme” swimming condition that could lead to hypothermia or cold shock, so consider wearing a wetsuit and check local weather data or bring a water thermometer along.