Navigating the world of wellness can be like a veritable alphabet soup with emerging trends. One that has stood the test of time is the alternation between hot and cold therapy – popularly known as sauna and ice bath exposure. This article will guide you on how to do sauna and ice bath exposure effectively and safely, enhancing your overall wellbeing.
The Science Behind Sauna and Ice Bath Exposure
Thanks to recent studies and the diligent work of scientists like Susannah Soberg, we now have a firm grasp on the benefits of alternating between sauna and ice bath exposure. They found that this practice can increase brown fat thermogenesis, enhancing metabolism, and building resilience, amongst other benefits. Here’s a breakdown of how these processes work:
- Heat exposure: When in the sauna, your body endures a high temperature between 187°F and 212°F. The heat results in an increase in blood flow, leading to various health benefits like improved cardiovascular function and reduced muscle soreness.
- Cold exposure: Submerging in an ice bath forces your body to adjust to the abrupt drop in temperature. This triggers an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn stimulates blood flow to vital organs, enhances the immune response, and boosts metabolism.
How to Do Sauna and Ice Bath Exposure
Now that we understand the science behind the process, let’s discuss how to do sauna and ice bath exposure.
- Begin with a 20-minute session in the sauna. This duration provides the required heat exposure to kickstart the thermogenic response. Ensure you are hydrated before entering the sauna and are comfortable with the heat.
- After the sauna, take a 5 to 10-minute break to allow your body to adjust and cool down naturally. This is known as “air cooling off”.
- Repeat this process for up to four cycles.
Ice Bath Protocol
- Submerge in the ice bath for at least 3 minutes, but no more than 5 minutes. The aim here is to subject your body to an uncomfortably cold, yet safe level of exposure.
- Repeat this process for up to three cycles.
- Start with the sauna session and end with the ice bath. This combination forces your body to heat up naturally after the cold exposure, stimulating the thermogenic metabolic response.
- To maximize the benefits, end on the cold exposure and resist the urge to warm up quickly. This might involve avoiding a warm shower or using a towel immediately after the ice bath.
- How cold should the ice bath be? The temperature of the ice bath should be cold enough that you want to get out, but not so cold that it becomes unsafe. There is no specific temperature set, as the aim is to stimulate your body’s response to the cold.
- How often should I do sauna and ice bath exposure? A good starting point is to aim for 57 minutes of heat exposure and 11 minutes of cold exposure per week. You can spread this over the week or do it all in one go. Listen to your body and adjust as necessary.
- When should I do sauna and ice bath exposure? It’s best to do cold exposure earlier in the day, as it wakes you up by causing your body to heat up naturally. Heat exposure is preferable at night, as it helps with sleep due to the post-heating dip in body temperature.
The process of alternating between sauna and ice bath exposure can seem intimidating at first, but with a clear understanding and a gradual approach, it can become an invigorating part of your wellness routine. As always, it’s crucial to listen to your body and adjust your approach accordingly. Make sure to hydrate well and ensure that you’re physically prepared for the heat and cold exposure. Remember, the ultimate goal is to boost your overall wellbeing. So, embrace the heat, endure the cold, and witness the transformative effects on your body and mind. Happy heating and cooling!