Are you a fan of swimming in cold water? I wasn’t, but I decided to challenge myself by swimming every morning, for 28 days, in my unheated outdoor pool. I did this to experiment on what happens when our bodies are exposed to cold water. This is what I found.
HI I am Andy from the Foolish Couple. We believe that healthy relationships start with health and our goal is to help people achieve true health and healthy relationships through nutrition, exercises, mindset and lifestyle.
I actually wanted to start this challenge last November when I read an article that intrigued me. The article talked about a bunch of seniors in Europe jumping into cold freezing lakes to swim every day. Why did they do it? Well, they claimed that it had healing benefits such as anti aging and more importantly for relieving chronic pains. I have been suffering from chronic pains for a very long time and who doesn’t want to look a little younger? So I decided to give it a try.
During that time, I checked what the water temperature of my pool was and it was 55º during that time, and I just couldn’t get myself to jump into the pool. I chickened out. But the idea kept nagging me month after month. If people much older than me can do it, why couldn’t I?
So I decided to ease my way into my cold water experiment. Rather than waiting till it is winter, where the water is 55º or lower, I would start earlier by acclimating my body when the water was a little bit warmer, around 66-68º. I imagined that it should have similar effects. After all, 66-68º is still pretty darn cold, about the same as if you were taking a shower with only cold water. When was the last time you tried taking a cold shower?
So I decided to do the cold water challenge and I announced it to all my friends and clients through Facebook Live that I was going to do it. This accomplished three things.
1: I cannot chicken out again like I did last year
2: Everyone on Facebook that was watching me kept me accountable for the next 28 days, and
3: It became more of a challenge for me because I had some naysayers betting on me quitting after a few days. And I love challenges! The more someone tells me I can’t do it, the more I want to prove them wrong.
And I did it! Today was the last day of my 28 day challenge, and I am loving it. Here’s what I found:
First of all, 68º is really cold, I don’t care what people say, until you jump in and try it, you will not know exactly how cold it feels to your body. I suggest you take a cold shower and see how long you last in the full cold water setting. The minute I jumped in, my body started to shiver.
So in order to warm up my body I had to keep moving.
On my first day, I was only able to stay in the pool for about 4 to 5 minutes which felt like an eternity to me. I had to get out and take a hot shower to stop myself from shivering. I came really close to quitting the first day because it felt like a stupid idea. But I kept on doing it because I knew I was doing it Live and I had to stay accountable to everyone watching until the end.
I have been battling with chronic arthritis since I was only 28 years old and I have been suffering from chronic pains for over 20 years. This was not brought on by old age or abusing my body in sports or anything like that.
When I was still in high school, I was involved in a major accident where my car was a total loss. I broke my collar bone, fractured my neck vertebrae, bent my back and dislocated my knees. It was this acute damage to my body that gave me chronic degenerative arthritis at an early age.
Shortly after the accident, my orthopedic surgeon warmed me that when I became 30 years old, I would probably feel like I was living in a 70 year old man’s body. Mentally I never really wanted to accept his prognosis and Minna and I have been searching for ways to heal my own body over the last 25 years. Finally, after many failed attempts and experiments, we came up with a lifestyle of proper diet, exercise and optimal nutrition through supplementation. At 44 years old, I was finally able to get relief from most of my pain.
The main reason I decided to do the cold water experiment was that I read it can help with chronic pains. I usually have pains in my neck, lower back, shoulder and knees which I have to take joint supplementation to relieve the pains. But during these 28 days, I stopped taking my supplementation to see if I would survive.
Miraculously, it did help tremendously with my joint pains. Normally if I stopped taking my joint supplementation for about 3 to 5 days, my pains would start coming back full force!
During the first week of swimming, my pains did come back but it was manageable. But after the second week onwards it seemed that almost all my pain is gone! The theory I have is that the cold water must be helping by keeping Inflammation down and it’s one of those things that I would have to continue to do every day if I want to keep inflammation down.
Now I understand why those European seniors with chronic pains swear by the cold water healing their pain.
I am not saying that everyone should start swimming in freezing waters, but in my case, cold therapy does seem to help.
I’m sure you probably want to hear more about how well cold water helps with anti-aging right? Sure, everybody I know, except probably Minna, wants to look younger and are looking for ways to have younger looking skin.
What I found is that swimming everyday in cold water will shrink the size of your pores and tighten your skin. I also noticed that I have a clearer complexion. So maybe it does help with anti-aging.
If you want to lose some body fat, here’s a biggie. Exposing your body to extreme cold over a period of time is supposed to convert your stubborn white body fat to brown body fat.
White body fat has many important functions such as thermal insulation and cushioning your internal organs and butt and also has to do with producing and regulating hormones in your body. But mainly, white body fat is used for energy storage when you have nothing to eat and nowadays, due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise, people have a lot more of white body fat accumulating around their belly, lower back, hips and legs.
Brown Body fat is referred to as the “good” fat in your body and burns calories in order to generate heat. Normally, brown body fat is only found in around the front and back of your neck and upper back.
I noticed after swimming in cold water for 28 days, I may have in fact converted some of my white body fat to brown body fat, because I noticed I lost a lot of fat around my gut and lower back, that I was never able to lose no matter how disciplined I was with my diet and exercise. I am not sure if this is just from swimming or swimming in cold water.
Either way I will take that as a win as I lost almost three inches off my waistline!
The last thing I noticed was of course the weight lost and the slight reshaping of my body. I lost around 15 lbs in 28 days.
Now I know why swimmers have such a nice V-shaped body. I am nowhere near that but I do notice that my body shape is leaning out. Imagine swimming every day for the rest of your life. Now that’s a challenge I am not sure I can keep, but knowing what cold water swimming does to help with the health of my body. I am encouraged to jump in more often to maintain the benefits maybe even through winter this year!
I am constantly looking for new experiments to try and I didn’t do it just because I like challenges. I am doing it because I want to improve my health and my quality of life. When my body is working well, it doesn’t only makes me feel good, but it also makes my family feel better. And of course, when we are healthy, we save a lot of money on medication and medical treatments, and I get to do everything that we, as the foolish couple, wants to do together.
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Until Next time, Love what you Live and Live what you Love!
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