Self care

Into the Cold: The missing link to your health routine

It’s 5:15am, the thermometer in my car reads a steaming forty seven degrees outside, cold enough to see my breath as I exhale. Walking to class in the morning is a struggle, fighting the urge to just drive home and get back into my warm bed, but the other members are waiting for me. We’ve become more than a class; we’re a community, a tribe, who depend on each other to keep working for each other with each other, toward our health goals.

We started working out outside in the summer during the pandemic. It had tons of space to stay safe while exercising and a group of people to work alongside with similar goals. Now, in the dead of winter months we’re still there, every morning, working out despite the cold. We always start out a little rigid as we fight to warm up with double layers, beanie, and gloves clinging to our bodies. By the end of the workout we have managed to strip the extra layers and earned a sweat, even with the temperature dropping a degree or two more at dawn. Not only do we get a great workout in but we feel great, lighter in mind and body, and seem to laugh more now than ever.

So what gives? Why do we get up and into the cold, knowing full well the shock we receive getting out of our heated cars and onto the courts to train in the dark, in the cold, with others who also seem a little addicted to the feeling we get afterwards. That, my friends, is the magic of the cold.

Why Cold Weather?

There have been many studies of the benefits that come from exposing yourself to the cold. One teacher in particular, Wim Hof, nicknamed the Iceman has had significant success in his many years of studying the benefits with doctors and researchers for the past twenty plus years. Below are just a few of the many benefits you receive when training and exposing yourself to the cold.

Stress release

When you are exposed to a cold atmosphere the first and only thing you can think about is the chill. There’s no room to worry about the day ahead, what happened yesterday, or your never ending to do list. There is just you and the need to warm up. It forces you to focus at the task at hand, sending you into a meditative like space where your mind, breath, and body all work as one to counter the cold and bring warmth to your core.

Working out releases endorphins into the body giving you a euphoric feeling of what many call the “after workout high.” Combine that with the meditation force of your mind, breath, and body working together you get a peaceful, tranquil feeling that stays with you throughout your day. You feel refreshed, clear minded, and more optimistic for what lies ahead.

Greater Body Functioning

Working out in cold temperatures like many people are now doing all across the states thanks, in large part, to the current pandemic has scientifically proven to boost your metabolism. By working out in the cold weather, it forces your body to work harder in order to warm yourself up. You expend more effort, both internally and externally, to get warm forcing your body to create more energy and thus boosting the metabolism in order to do so.

Metabolism is one benefit of many that have been found to help your body function better. Another great benefit is the reduction of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a major player in creating disease and illness in the body; with the reduction of inflammation you inevitably increase your immunity, staying healthy for longer.

Decreasing inflammation also means reducing the amount of swelling in your body that create sore muscles. I’m not saying you won’t feel sore, you will just not feel as sore as you would before being frequently exposed to the cold weather. This is why many athletes and celebrities have put ice baths in their homes to help with recovery after a hard workout.

Better Sleep

Sleep is one of, if not THE MOST, important component when it comes to recovery. During sleep is when your body and mind heals itself, your brain makes sense of everything it encountered during the day, and you as a whole are able to recharge the batteries so to speak. Many people have a hard time sleeping however; causing people to feel more stressed, fatigued during the day, and even forces you to gain weight with the release of cortisol into your body from bad sleepless nights.

Introducing yourself to the cold weather, particularly first thing in the morning, allows you to feel rejuvenated and energized for the day, keeps the brain sharp as discussed above, and allows for better sleep at night. Better sleep means more energy to do the things you love, keep up with your children, and live a less stressed life.

In conclusion…

Going into the cold, though at first, sounds horrible is actually one of the best things you can do for your health. Full disclaimer: Your body will go through the initial shock of cold when it is first introduced. After that initial shock however your body adapts quickly, allowing your breath to catch up to what your body is doing; relaxing and absorbing the cold temperatures and using it to your advantage. Our bodies are strong, much stronger than we believe them to be. The cold is not our enemy, it is the tool we’ve been missing to grow into the humans we’ve always been, we just need a little help from nature to remind us of who we are.

Fearless. Strong. Resilient. Healthy.

In the OC area and want to try this whole cold weather workout thing? CLICK HERE to get your first two weeks for only $2 and start to feel the benefits day after day.

*Some of this article’s research came from https://www.wimhofmethod.com. A tool I use often for not only cold weather techniques but his breathing techniques as well. For more info or to start your own health journey with Wim, Click the link above.*

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