Ice bathing, cold showers, going to the sauna – toughening up seems to be an effective way of escaping a cold. The applications with cold water on the skin, however, cost some effort and a lot of courage. But Does bathing with cold water really strengthen the immune system and what all are the benefits of bathing with cold water?
A cold is always inconvenient. Many therefore wonder how they can avoid the annoying stuffy nose. With the multitude of immune-strengthening food supplements, it is easy to lose track of things. Many people do not want to swallow anything extra to be able to defy the pathogens. So something else has to be done. Strengthening the immune system is the word that keeps coming up in this regard. But does that really help? Yes, it works, as has been shown in numerous studies.
However, Strengthening the immune system is not just about the cold, as is often suggested in ice bathing or cold water bathing, but about the alternation between warmth and cold. This means that you take your body, which is around 37 degrees Celsius and expose it to several serial cold stimuli. In order to strengthen yourself, you don’t have to pour ice-cold water over your entire body once.
When hardening, it doesn’t necessarily depend on how large the body area is or how cold the water is. It is completely sufficient to treat the arms up to the middle of the upper arms or the feet up to the half of the calves with so-called alternating applications, i.e. warm-cold-warm-cold, several times a week.
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Thermoregulation Training – Bathing With Cold Water
It’s about the principle of alternating applications, which, however, have to be done correctly. You start with warm water and then apply a brief cold stimulus. Then you warm up again in the warm water and set a short cold stimulus again. The tap water in winters is generally cold enough for that. People who are particularly sensitive to the cold, however, should make the readjustment to get the right temperature of the water. As in all other areas of life, people should listen to their bodies.
The alternating applications simulate the conditions in nature, because here too, for example during the day or when changing between summer and winter, you have to deal with different ambient temperatures. So the body has to constantly adapt. In warmth, the blood vessels expand, in the cold, the blood vessels are drawn together and also in the mucous membranes, which serve as the entry point for colds. By switching between warm and cold, the mucous membranes are better supplied with blood. This strengthens the local immune response and pathogens can be warded off.
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If you already have a cold, you shouldn’t do alternate applications, because that could put too much strain on the body. It is then better to do so-called ascending arm or foot baths. This means that you hold your arms or legs in warm water and continuously let warmer water run up to 40 degrees Celsius. If you have a fever, however, you should avoid it. Who knew one such benefits of bathing with cold water can actually improve immunity.