Tony Robbins has done this for many years and he openly admits that he never looks forward to it, but it has trained his mind that ‘when I say go, we go’. It also provides him with a rush of energy that lasts all morning.
Tony starts his day by either jumping into a deep and cold plunge pool (57°F), swimming in a river next to his home in Sun Valley or spending time inside a cryotherapy chamber.
Cold thermogenesis is one of the secrets of peak performance and on this blog post, I will tell you why it’s so important and how you can prime your day for success in just one minute.
Here is an extract from Limitless:
We are very fortunate these days to be able to keep warm with warm clothes, a warm house and a warm car, but we’ve lost the feeling of being cold and genuinely how amazing you can feel when you get cold. It’s not always been this way and humans for thousands of years had to live in an environment where there was extreme cold. Many civilisations actively sought out cold exposure:
- The ancient Romans would plunge into frigidarium baths.
- The Nordics would crack open the ice on a lake to go swimming in winter.
- In the 18th century, Dr Hahn’s book On the Healing Virtues of Cold Water, Inwardly and Outwardly Applied was published in Germany. Interest reached a peak in the Victorian era, and cold baths were frequently prescribed for all manner of complaints from bruises to hysteria.
Even in modern times, the Finnish know something that most of the world does not. Winter swimming (or ice hole/ pool swimming) is a traditional Finnish outdoor activity.
Wim Hof, a Dutch daredevil, holds twenty-six world records including one for the longest ice bath:
- In 2009, he completed a full marathon above the Arctic Circle in Finland, in temperatures of −20°C, dressed in nothing but shorts
- In 2009, he reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro within two days wearing only his shorts
- In 2011 he broke his own world record for staying immersed in ice for one hour and fifty-two-minutes
- He climbed 22,000 feet up Mount Everest wearing only his shorts and shoes and had to stop due to a foot injury
Wim Hof can withstand such extreme temperatures through controlling his breathing and practising his Wim Hof Method. He has been the focus for much scientific research because his feats have been deemed scientifically impossible. In 2014 a study into the Wim Hof Method concluded that:
‘through practicing techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced’.
Cold exposure is often referred to as cold thermogenesis, and the use of ice baths have been used in the world of sports science for the recovery of athletes for a long time, but it’s only now becoming clear that they are incredibly useful for energy and performance. Cold thermogenesis is excellent for accelerating healing because when the cold constricts the blood vessels, it reduces blood flow and swelling, and pain and inflammation decrease.
There are many health benefits associated with cold thermogenesis that are backed by scientific studies.
- Stimulation of weight loss. Brown adipose tissue (BAT), often referred to as brown fat, is typically found in lean individuals and is rarely found in obese people. A 2013 study concluded that: ‘BAT may serve as a potential target for the treatment and prevention of obesity and other metabolic conditions in humans.’
- Reduces sick days. A randomised controlled study in 2016 of 3,018 participants that took a cold shower every day, reported a 29% reduction in sickness days.
- Increased norepinephrine. A 2008 study showed that cold exposure increased plasma norepinephrine by 200–300%. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and is critical for:
- Relief from depression. Higher levels of norepinephrine are also linked with improved mood and people suffering from depression often have low levels of norepinephrine.
- Reducing inflammation. Research shows that norepinephrine plays a role in reducing inflammation.
- Improves cognition. A 2017 review7 stated that: ‘norepinephrine is now recognized as a contributor to various aspects of cognition, including attention, behavioral flexibility, working memory, and long-term mnemonic processes.’
You can benefit from cold thermogenesis by taking a hot shower each day and at the end of the shower, turn it too a cold temperature for one minute. The first few days will be tough but it’s worth persevering because the benefits are incredible.
So, this is your task for this week:
Take a cold shower for one minute and let me know how you get on?
If the cold shower is too much for you to start with, then try splashing cold water over your face a few times in the morning and then build up to the cold shower slowly. Alternatively, you can start with a cool shower and each day turn the temperature down gradually. Some people find it beneficial to rub their body vigorously when having a cold shower and that helps them deal with the shock of the cold.
Nick Powell is the founder of Stronger Self and he works with entrepreneurs and senior leaders to enable them to take their personal and professional performance to the next level.
Nick’s approach uses cutting edge tools and techniques from the worlds of biohacking, productivity, anti-aging and neuroscience; harnessing the exciting intersection between biology and technology.
Nick has developed his Peak Performance Coaching Programmes to enable his clients to deliver extraordinary results across all aspects of their personal and professional lives.
He runs his Coaching sessions face to face in London & Surrey and across the World via Zoom.