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While the allure of cold therapies has gained recent attention, it’s essential not to overlook the numerous health benefits associated with heat.
Cold plunges, often hailed as a remedy for various health issues and an essential for wellness, have gained popularity in recent times. However, the skeptical academic in me must acknowledge the stark reality of a lack of robust evidence supporting the claimed health benefits of cold plunges.
Many supporters of cold plunges attribute a myriad of health advantages to hopping in the cold water, ranging from enhanced immune function to accelerated recovery after exercise and there may be some truth to it. However, a closer look reveals much of the supporting evidence is anecdotal, and the placebo effect may play a significant role. The reality is, and we see this in scientific discovery all the time, the power of belief and expectation can influence subjective perceptions of well-being, making it difficult to separate genuine physiological effects from the emotional impact of the practice.
While cold plunges may offer benefit, there are also potential risks and concerns associated with exposing the body to extreme cold. People with cardiovascular conditions, respiratory issues, or compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to negative effects. The absence of clear guidelines and robust data raises concerns about the overall safety of widespread cold plunge practices.
Plus, who likes to be cold? Not me!
Whether it’s basking in the sun, enjoying a sauna session, or indulging in a warm bath, the positive impact of heat on our well-being is extensive.
One of the most significant advantages of warm weather is the abundance of sunlight, a natural source of Vitamin D. Being out in the sun triggers the production of Vitamin D in our skin, essential for maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system.
Sunlight also stimulates the production of serotonin, a crucial chemical in the brain that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. Exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate our circadian rhythm, promoting better sleep at night.
If you can’t escape to a warmer climate during the winter, there are still many benefits to heat, even without the sunlight.
Heat is a well-established method for relieving muscle and joint pain. Heat can soothe sore muscles and alleviate discomfort associated with conditions such as arthritis, providing a natural and non-invasive approach to pain management.
Regular heat-induced sweating has been linked to improved skin health and a reduction in the body’s toxins due to removal of bodily pollutants through sweating.
Not only does heat dilate blood vessels increasing delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body but it is also recognized for its ability to induce relaxation and alleviate stress, promoting an overall calming effect.
Lastly, exposure to heat, can lead to an increase in metabolic rate. While not a substitute for regular exercise and a balanced diet, incorporating heat into one’s weight management plan may be beneficial.
While the allure of trendy cold plunges may be appealing to some, the health benefits of warm weather cannot be overstated. From the abundance of Vitamin D to the positive impact on mental and physical health, embracing warmth has many rewards. Because of them, I try to escape to sunny weather at least once during the winter months. When I can’t find the time to travel, I incorporate hot yoga, infrared saunas, and other warm activities to continue benefiting from heat.
As we start the new year, it’s time to get warm. Believe me, your body will thank you for it.