An ice bath is a special type of cold therapy that can improve cardiovascular health. It goes way beyond cold showers; it’s more like courage-enhancing, mind-over-matter cold plunging into that ice bath!
While used for centuries by athletes to reduce inflammation and enhance recovery, recent studies suggest that it can also have major benefits for heart health and the blood vessels that make up the cardiovascular system.
What is an ice barrel bath?
An ice barrel bath involves soaking in a large barrel filled with very cold water and sometimes accompanied by various herbs or aromatherapy scents.
The temperature of the water typically ranges between 50°F (10°C) and 65°F (18°C).
Soaking in this cold water is thought to induce a range of therapeutic effects, including reduced inflammation, improved circulation, and boosted immunity.
6 Ways an Ice Barrel Bath Benefits Heart Health
The benefits of ice barrel baths on cardiovascular health are supported by scientific research. Here are some of the key benefits:
Reduces blood pressure
Studies show that immersing yourself in cold water reduces blood pressure.
This effect is believed to be due to the simultaneous stimulation of both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which results in improved circulation throughout the body. Lower stress is one of the many benefits.
Boosts cardiovascular endurance
By stimulating the body’s response to stress, regular use of an ice barrel bath can help improve the body’s tolerance for physical exertion over time. It also helps to alleviate depression.
This benefit has been linked to improved endurance capacity due to increased regulation of nitric oxide (NO) production during exercise, as well as reduced levels of lactic acid buildup.
Cold-water exposure forces your peripheral vessels, such as those found in your limbs, to constrict temporarily before expanding again afterwards when the stimulus disappears.
This process increases blood flow throughout your body, resulting in improved circulation—a major benefit for cardiovascular health.
Supports healthy cholesterol levels
For those with high cholesterol, regular use of an ice bath may help support healthy levels by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while maintaining HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels at a proper level.
Provides anti-inflammatory benefits
According to one study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology, regular use of an ice barrel bath “may reduce inflammation associated with diabetes or other chronic diseases.”
These anti-inflammatory effects are thought to stem from increased levels of endorphins released into the circulation during cold-water exposure.
Helps strengthen your heart muscle
Cold-water immersion has been associated with better overall heart muscle function due to increased oxygenation and improved metabolic efficiency over time.
Additionally, it may help reduce cardiac arrhythmias—irregularities in your heartbeat—as well as protect against excessive calcium buildup within your heart muscle cells.
Buy ice or make it yourself?
Buying ice will eventually become expensive and inconvenient, so if you are serious about cold exposure and want to cold plunge more often than not, investing in an ice machine is likely the best way to go. You can choose something between a small countertop style ice maker and a commercial one like this mid-sized one that can service an ice bath well.
Electric Ice Maker
- 100 Lbs/Day
- Stainless Steel Ice Machine
- 48 lbs Capacity
- Includes Scoop
What are the best ice baths that are environmentally friendly, sustainable, practical, and cost-effective?
If you are looking for some guidance on an ice barrel purchase, these cold-plunging tubs come in all sorts of qualities, shapes, and materials.
There are plastic barrels made of recycled materials, or you can choose a low-linear-density polyethylene that is often collapsible, has a lightweight design, and is practical for storage when not in use. If you choose a plastic barrel, be sure to look for an easy-flow drainage system with a drain spout.
This one is tall enough for the average-sized adult and comes highly rated on Amazon:
Inflatable Portable Bathtub
- Foldable plastic Bath Tub
- Portable Soaking Tub For
- Adult Large size
Whatever your cold-plunge sessions call for in terms of a cold-plunge tub, you can be sure that there is one to fit the needs of most everyone.
What is cold therapy training?
Cold therapy training is an exercise regimen that involves the use of cold temperatures to reduce inflammation and pain while improving performance.
It can help improve recovery time between workouts, reduce fatigue, and increase strength. Training for cold therapy involves using a variety of methods, such as ice baths, cold showers, massage with ice packs, and wearing cooling garments.
What should the water temperature be for my ice barrel bath?
Most people recommend keeping your ice barrel between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 18 degrees Celsius).
You may find it helpful to check the temperature periodically throughout your immersion session using a thermometer if you have one available—just take care not to freeze yourself!
How long should I cold plunge in my ice barrel bath?
It is suggested that you stay submerged for about 20 minutes per session when taking part in an intermittent cold-water therapy practice for best results.
How does a cold plunge tub help with post-workout recovery?
An ice barrel bath, also known as an ice bath, is a form of cold therapy training that helps with post-workout recovery.
Sitting in an upright position and submerging your body in cold water after exercise can help reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and reduce muscle soreness. It can also help increase the range of motion of your joints, reducing stiffness and improving flexibility.
Concluding thoughts on ice barrel baths for heart health
Ice barrel baths provide a variety of health benefits that range from reducing inflammation and muscle soreness to improving flexibility and aiding in post-workout recovery. These baths can also have positive impacts on heart health, such as reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels and stress.
Furthermore, regular ice barrel baths may even help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. By including this form of cold therapy training in your exercise regimen, you can improve your overall physical and mental well-being while also helping to keep your heart healthy.
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