Polar Bear Plunge - The Plunge Brrrr

Racing into frigid Coney Island water New Years Day

{3 minutes to read} Cold-water swimming boosts your immune system and provides stress reduction and resiliency by shocking your system. Many studies have found that cold water swimming not only de-stresses the body physically, but also mentally. It can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine — neurotransmitters that can help reduce depression. Many cold-water swimmers have been able to increase their life expectancy and their overall quality of life. The intense shocking of the system increases antibodies and puts your body on alert. It boosts your immune system by increasing your white blood cell count. It increases blood circulation. In a warm environment your veins are enlarged, or vasodilated, but when you hit the cold, your veins vasoconstrict. However, the same amount of blood flows through your more restricted veins, arteries and capillaries, forcing a clean out with the blood flowing through restricted openings. Therefore, it is a great cleanser to your circulation system.

Polar Bear Plunge Mascot

 

Given all these benefits, I decided to join the Polar Bear Club in Coney Island, the oldest cold-water swimming club in North America. What an invigorating way to start the year. People ask, “How do you get past the initial shock where every cell in your body is telling you to get out of this abnormal environment?” Once you stabilize your breathing, you reach a calmer state. But after 10 minutes you need to get the hell out of the water to prevent hypothermia. On colder days, I swim as fast as I can in order to stay warm. After 5 minutes in frigid waters, I come out of the swim feeling so alert. There’s just such clarity — almost like a new dimension.

 

Polar Bear Plunge - Thermalism

Thermalism at home

 

A friend recently asked, “What if you’re not a Polar Bear? Is there a way to reproduce the health benefits?” You can easily implement this “thermalism” at home to achieve a similar effect. Take a warm shower, then turn the dial over to the extreme cold and stay there for 15 seconds. Repeat this cycle three times, staying under the cold water for as long as you can, increasing the time under the cold water with each cycle.
What are you waiting for? The Polar Bear Club meets every Sunday at 1pm during the cold months, so come join us! Or practice “thermalism” at home.

 

 

Robert Henry
roberthenry@rdh-architects.com
www.rdh-architects.com
212.533.4145