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5 Powerful Cold Plunge Benefits

by Jennifer Sweenie
Last Updated: March 12, 2024

Are you curious about the cold plunging trend and reaping potential cold plunge benefits? Cold water plunges are the new “It” wellness practice. The popular activity has seemingly taken over wellness-oriented social media, and many people and health influencers are singing its praises. A myriad of proven positive health benefits have been associated with cold plunge therapy. Improved mental health, stress relief, muscle recovery, and weight loss have made their way to the list of touted cold plunge benefits, amongst others. 

Are you ready to embrace the chill and reap the cold plunge benefits?

Are you ready to embrace the chill and reap the cold plunge benefits?

Cold water therapy is not new. Winter swimmers have been taking a brief dip in the ocean for centuries. Cold baths or a stand-alone cold pool are often a staple at any spa or bathhouse. Some people have always intuitively ended their shower with a rinse of cold water. 

Are you chomping at the bit to try cold plunging? Before you start submerging yourself in ice-cold water or taking a bath in ice cubes, let’s first explore what cold water immersion is, the top cold plunge benefits and any possible risks, and how to get started with short-term whole-body cold exposure if you choose to do so. 

What Is a Cold Plunge?

A cold plunge is the sudden immersion of your body in extremely cold water temperatures. There are no hard and fast rules to cold plunging, and it can take on several forms. But ultimately, it involves immersing yourself—or part of yourself—in cold water. The goal of cold plunging is to lower your core body temperature.  This results in increased blood flow and blood circulation. Your body's response to the temperature shock and cold stress is not exactly a comfortable feeling at first, but if you stick it out, there are a myriad of purported benefits you may reap.

5 Powerful Cold Plunge Benefits

There are several evidence-backed positive health effects of cold plunging. Repeated cold exposures are believed to:

  1. Decrease Inflammation

    Cold plunging may be a helpful tool for muscle repair and recovery after a tough workout. A systematic review published in Sports Medicine in 2022 found that cold water immersion after a strenuous workout was effective in delaying the onset of muscle soreness, power, and recovery for 24 hours after high-intensity exercise. This is why athletes often take a cold plunge after a game or sporting event.
  2. Promote Better Sleep
    Research on cold plunging and sleep is limited, but many people who partake in cold therapy report deeper and more restful sleep. A cold plunge is believed to help the body reach a parasympathetic state that can help promote relaxation. If improving your sleep is a goal, make sure to leave a one to two-hour window before bed, as cold plunging has an immediate energizing effect.
  3. Enhance Mental Health
    A study found that a cold plunge at 57 degrees Fahrenheit increased dopamine levels by a whopping 250 percent for several hours afterward.  Cold plunging and cold water exposure have also been found to significantly improve mood in healthy individuals by decreasing depression, fatigue, anger, and tension while increasing vigor and self-esteem. Some people also report that cold plunging helps them focus and reduces brain fog.
  4. Support Immunity
    More research is needed, but cold plunging may keep you from the doctor. A study published in PLoS One in 2016 found that participants who routinely took cold showers took 29 percent fewer sick days from work than those who did not.
  5. Increase Insulin sensitivity
    The cold shock response and shivering from cold plunging may help with blood sugar regulation. A study published in Frontiers in Physiology in 2022 found that acute and repeated cold exposure improves insulin sensitivity. The same study also showed an increase in energy metabolism and metabolic rate.

How to Do a Cold Plunge

There really is no wrong or right way to do a cold plunge if you want to experience some of the purported benefits. If you’re plunging yourself in cold water, you are essentially cold plunging. You don’t necessarily need any fancy equipment. A few bags of ice in your bathtub will do the trick. 

A full-body immersion into a tub or tank of ice-cold water is the standard way of doing a cold plunge. However, you can still reap the benefits of a cold plunge if you find yourself sans a tank or tub large enough to take a full-body dunk in. Simply turning your shower knob all the way to cold for the last minute or so of your shower offers some benefits. You can also hold your breath and submerge just your face in a bowl of cold water and ice cubes for a few seconds to a minute.

The duration of immersion varies from a few seconds to minutes, but ultimately, the more you do it, the more you will develop an improved cold tolerance and stay in longer. Start with 30 seconds and build from there. There is no need to stay in more than two to three minutes. When you’re done cold plunging, slowly warm yourself back up with clothing and movement. 

Potential Downsides to Cold Plunging

There are a few risks to keep in mind if you decide to start cold plunging. Hypothermia is an obvious risk associated with exposure to cold temperatures. Be mindful of duration and pay attention to signs from your body that you’ve had enough. To mitigate the risk of your core body temperature remaining in a dangerously low range after the cold plunge, have a warm towel or blanket and dry clothing ready to go. As always, before embarking on cold plunging or any new wellness trend, it is important to consult your physician to ensure no contraindications are present, such as a heart condition, poor circulation, diabetes, or neuropathy.


Cold plunging comes with several health benefits and minimal risks and is pretty simple to do. If you’re ready to add cold plunging to your wellness routine, a myPrimalCoach can help guide you through the process. Our coaches are always ready to help you reach optimal health and wellness through proper nutrition, exercise, stress management, and more healthy lifestyle and behavior modifications. 

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