5 Health Benefits of a Cold Plunge

Brian Reese
4 min readMay 27, 2024

I’ve been using a cold plunge 4 to 5x per week for the past year. The health benefits are crazy. The biggest boost I feel is to my mental health, as dopamine floods your body during and after a cold plunge. For example, one study found that a cold plunge at 57°F resulted in a 250% increase in dopamine levels, and a 530% increase in noradrenaline levels that lasted for several hours.

What is a Cold Plunge?

A cold plunge, also known as cold water immersion or an ice bath, is a practice that has gained popularity among athletes, wellness enthusiasts, and those looking to boost their overall health. This simple yet powerful technique involves immersing the body in cold water for a brief period, typically ranging from a few seconds to several minutes. Let’s explore the myriad health benefits of taking the plunge into icy waters.

What Type of Cold Plunge?

There are many different styles of cold plunge. For me, I use the original Plunge All-In Icebath. If you don’t want to purchase anything initially, you can always start by adding ice to an existing bathtub. One way to work your yourself up to an icebath is to start with cold showers.

#1. Enhanced Recovery and Reduced Muscle Soreness

Cold water immersion is widely recognized for its ability to aid in muscle recovery. Athletes often use ice baths to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation following intense workouts. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, which helps reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. When the body re-warms, blood flow increases, promoting the removal of metabolic waste and the delivery of essential nutrients to muscles. I do a lot of HIT type workouts, so a cold plunge helps speed my recovery. I can tell.

#2. Boosted Immune System

Regular exposure to cold water has been shown to stimulate the immune system. Cold plunges can increase the production of white blood cells and other immune cells, enhancing the body’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses. I rarely get sick anymore, and when I do, my body seems to fight off sickness better than it did before using a cold plunge.

#3. Improved Mental Health

Cold plunges can have a profound impact on mental well-being. The shock of cold water triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Additionally, overcoming the initial discomfort of a cold plunge can enhance mental resilience and stress tolerance. The dopamine hit is incredible and I feel amazing for 2–3 hours after a cold plunge.

#4. Enhanced Circulation and Cardiovascular Health

Cold water immersion can significantly improve circulation. The cold causes blood vessels to constrict and then dilate upon re-warming, which enhances blood flow throughout the body. This process can help improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease. I used to have high blood pressure, routinely in the 150–160 over 90–100 range. In fact, my doctor said I should consider high blood pressure medication. However, after using the cold plunge for a year, my blood pressure is now 120/80 consistently. My last reading on 4/18/2024 was 120/85.

#5. Increased Metabolism and Weight Loss

Cold exposure can boost metabolism as the body works harder to maintain its core temperature. This increase in metabolic rate can aid in weight loss and improve overall energy expenditure. Additionally, cold plunges can activate brown fat, a type of fat that burns calories to generate heat. I’ve lost 10 lbs, but have also added quite a bit of muscle. I have more work to do here as I’d like to lose another 15–20 lbs in the next 12 months.

How to Safely Practice Cold Plunges

  1. Start Slowly: Begin with short immersions and gradually increase the duration as your body adapts. For me, I set my cold plunge at 47 degrees and stay fully immersed for 3 1/2 minutes.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Ensure you are well-hydrated before and after your plunge. I keep a water bottle next to me and drink a lot of water before and after the cold plunge.
  3. Listen to Your Body: If you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or excessively uncomfortable, exit the water immediately.
  4. Consult a Doctor: If you have any medical conditions, consult with your healthcare provider before starting cold water immersion.

Conclusion and Wrap-Up

Incorporating cold plunges into your wellness routine can offer a multitude of health benefits, from enhanced physical recovery to improved mental health and cardiovascular function. As always, it’s important to approach this practice safely and listen to your body’s signals. So, brace yourself and take the plunge into better health!



Brian Reese

I help Veterans get the VA disability rating % and compensation $ they deserve.