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People of the past enjoyed the sensation of going from an intensely warm environment to a chilly environment in a matter of seconds. Cold plunge pools are a European phenomenon dating back to the Romans. Cold water therapy has also been a part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. People of today understand the health benefits that are associated with such a dramatic change in water temperature.
The Cold Plunge is a deep cold-water pool used to stimulate blood circulation and rapidly cool the body, especially after time in a spa, sauna or steam room. Water temperature is kept at a constant 50 to 55 degrees. Cold therapy numbs the nerves around the joint, thereby reducing pain and relieving inflammation and muscle spasms. It also strengthens the immune system. A long period of time is not needed to receive the benefits of the cold water. Even 30 seconds can get the nerve receptors firing. Cold plunge pools are designed to create the ultimate recovery and revitalization environment for athletes too, presenting an ideal option not only for the home owner, but sports facilities and health clubs as well.
When practiced for at least four weeks, cold-water therapy
Stabilizes blood pressure. Cold water triggers the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions, such as heartbeat and breathing to raise blood pressure, increase heart rate and constrict blood vessels. The autonomic responses strengthen with each exposure. This stabilizes blood pressure, improves circulation and balances other bodily functions, such as the sleep/wake cycle.
Enhances immunity. Cold water stimulates the release of cytokines and other hormone like substances that are vital to immune function.
Reduces pain. Cold causes the body to release endorphins, hormones with proven pain-fighting properties.
Improves moods. Cold water activates sensory nerves that lead to the brain. Cold water can be emotionally uplifting and prime a person for new experiences.
Recent finding: Breast cancer patients who underwent cold water therapy for four weeks experienced significant gains in their levels of disease fighting white blood cells, according to a German study.
See your doctor for a blood pressure test before beginning a cold water regimen. People with heart conditions and pregnant women should not use cold plunge pools.