So, it's still winter. And baby, it's cold outside! Is that tropical all-inclusive you're dreaming about really worth the inglorious "all's"? The Zika-roulette, the formaldehyde Margaritas? The cheesy electronica thumping from the pool deck, fading behind your intestinally motivated sprint? No, not in the [credit] cards, this year....
O Canadians, why flee Winter?
It’s time to embrace your frozen nation's Staycation.
Bank up your wellness reserves with cold therapy…
an abundant part of Canada’s free health care!
Of all the discomforts we face in life, why do we avoid braving the most convenient? Here are four good reasons to pull off your socks and bite the chill bug back!
The Benefits of Brown Fat trump that Temporary Tan
National Institutes of Health results reported that healthy men who slept in a cool 66-degree [Fahrenheit] room for one month, increased their metabolically active brown fat. (1) “Brown fat” is more desirable than white fat because it helps your body burn calories and dispose of excess blood sugar", explained Dr. Francesco Celi, chair of Virginia Commonwealth University’s division of endocrinology and metabolism (2). Some evidence points to shivering as the mechanism that brings on the increase in brown fat (or converted "beige" fat).
Cold Head, Go to Bed
Dr. Celi also noted that: “We found that even a small reduction in bedroom temperature affects metabolism...”. Another study gives some evidence that yawning helps your brain offload heat before bedtime (4). The Time Magazine article concluded: "keeping your head nice and cool is conducive to good sleep. To achieve that, set your thermostat somewhere around 65 degrees, research suggests." (1) [65 Fahrenheit is around 18 degrees Celsius]
Cold Hands, Warm Heart.
Some say that taking cold showers makes them feel warm after. Turns out: it's science! A study interpreting data from swimmers who regularly swam in icy waters found that their bodies actually responded to cold differently. By not experiencing "winter" anymore, we have become inefficient in dealing with cold. We don't generate heat from the core anymore. "When confronted with cold, the non-cold-conditioned subjects in the aforementioned study soon began shivering, which warms our extremities through muscular contraction." ..."But winter swimmers didn’t start shivering as quickly, and displayed “non-shivering thermogenesis”, meaning that their core temperature increased to deal with the cold." (3,2)
Suck it Up, Buttercup!
Daily cold conditioning increases both the activity and numbers of natural killer cells in your immune system. And it significantly increases blood levels of anti-oxidants. Breast cancer patients exposed to cold water were found to have “significantly increased disease-fighting cell counts in every category examined”…..(3)
Cold showers, like exercise, can act as an anti-depressant, increasing blood levels of beta-endorphins.
Hold the Ice!
If you've got high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, low blood pressure or adrenal/kidney problems, "cold shock" is not for you. Neither is the hot tub, so don't get smug! With your doctor's input, consider a snappy ending to your warm shower with short-term cooling, just below the knee!
Stay Cold and Stay Gold!
So brave some chill, for these all-inclusive gains! A daily cold shower, for a minimum of three weeks, could theoretically make up for time lost exercising in the outdoors. Anyone with me? Click the ten-minute TEDx Talk below, to feel encouraged to turn that dial the other way!
©️ Lana Brown 2017 (written content). Photos: wix.com & bigstock.com.
(1) Time Magazine [online]: Is Sleeping in a Cold Room Better For You? Markham Heid Nov 26, 2014
(2) The Atlantic [online]: The Benefits of Being Cold. James Hamblin. (Jan/Feb 2015) . National Institutes of Health report in the Journal of Cell Metabolism. Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, professor at Maastricht University, studies on non-shivering thermogenesis.
(4)Time Magazine: Tip for Insomniacs: Cool Your Head to Fall Asleep. by Alice Park: http://healthland.time.com/2011/06/17/tip-for-insomniacs-cool-your-head-to-fall-asleep/
(3) Rebooted Body: How to Radically Improve Your Physical and Mental Health with Cold Conditioning”. Kenton Whitman. Dec 10, 2014. http://rebootedbody.com/cold-conditioning/