How I Cold Plunge

Breathing Exercise

First and foremost, before you get into cold water, you want to do some breathing exercises.
Wim Hof breathing is the most popular type of breathing for this practice.

Sit upright, typically with your hands on your knees, and begin breathing. 
You want to do deep, long inhales, and short fast exhales. This is counted as 1 repetition. 
Breathe 30 repetitions; on the exhale of your 30th repetition, let all of the air out and hold that until you feel the urge to breathe. Once you feel the urge, breathe in 1 full breath and hold that one as well until you can no longer hold it. Do this 2 more times, and you will be primed and ready for a cold plunge. 

3 sets of 30 repetitions of breathwork. In between sets, exhale and hold, and inhale and hold before starting your next set. 

The Goal Of Breathing before Cold Plunging?
It primes your sympathetic nervous system and puts you into a fight or flight state, and assists you in crossing the threshold of the cold water. Your adrenals pump adrenaline into your system, where it acts as an analgesic blunting pain, making it easier to enter the cold water. 

Scientific Mechanism:
Contrary to popular belief, this type of breathing does not necessarily oxygenate your blood; rather, it offloads your body of carbon dioxide faster than loading up on oxygen, which increases the ph levels of your blood. By performing these breathing exercises, your adrenals pump adrenaline into your system, giving you energy, focus, and an analgesic effect. 

Getting Into Cold Water

Instead of getting yourself amped up as if to do a crazy stunt, I prefer to go into the cold water with a calm mind. After the breathing exercises, your body has adrenaline pumping through it, so your natural response is high energy and action. By remaining still in your mind, you will raise the threshold of your reaction to stress which directly translates to your day-to-day stress outside of cold plunging. 

With a still mind, you want to then enter the cold water. Remain in the water until you're ready to get out. This will vary on temperature and the individual and what you're trying to achieve. When you are in the water, you can choose to do a type of box breathing, which helps calm you down, or you can simply breathe normally. What you don't want to do is hyperventilate because this can cause shallow water blackout and can be fatal if no one is to help you. 

How long
If you're first starting out, you don't need to stay in for a long time. Give yourself time and work up to it. Try to get 10 seconds and then eventually work your way up for minutes. 2 weeks should be a reasonable time frame to get yourself up to sitting in the water for minutes at a time. 

In a recent paper published in Cell Reports Medicine, the latest data show that the minimum threshold to derive benefits of metabolism, insulin, and growth hormone pathways are 11 minutes per week.

Uncomfortably cold, but safe. 

Author-Drew Doner

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