Come on in, the water’s COLD.

A couple of months back, I sent some seasonal health tips that included cold therapy (also called cold thermogenesis).

Readers sent me two types of feedback: they either tried it and loved it…or they were scared to try it!

Those who are brave enough to try it quickly realize cold therapy can:

  • speed up fat-burning[1]
  • supercharge recovery and performance[2][3]
  • lessen inflammation and soreness[4]
  • boost mood[5]
  • increase energy levels and decrease fatigue[6]
  • assist sleep[7][8]
  • improve skin appearance[9]
  • and even support immune function.[10][11]

If you’re not sold on cold yet, please allow me to provide some encouragement. And if you’re already a cold lover, feel free to share these insights with your friends and let me know what they say.

Below, you’ll find details on exactly what to expect.

What to Expect

1. It’s really, really cold. This sounds extremely obvious, but it’s unavoidable. People tell me that the shock of cold wakes them up immediately and makes them feel alive. It’s indescribable. The secret is to embrace the discomfort (more tips on this in the HOW TO section of next week’s guide.)

2. You feel better immediately. Some people love the shock of cold and others don’t, but everyone agrees that even the very first session provides immediate benefits. Your mood will brighten, inflammation and soreness decrease, and you’ll likely sleep better that same night.

3. After about a week, your body adapts. Especially with an intelligent regimen like the one I’ve outlined below, your body begins to produce more heat during cold therapy. In some cases, you can even feel your body cranking up heat production before you do your session. The result is less shivering and a feeling of intense warmth, even during extreme cold.[12]

4. The benefits stay, even if you back off on cold therapy. While some benefits (like a better mood and deeper sleep) relate to whether or not you’ve done a session that day, others are more permanent. For example, cold therapy increases fat-burning brown adipose tissue (BAT), which boosts your metabolism even if you don’t continue with regular sessions.[1] You’ll also have a much easier time staying warmer in winter.

One caveat: I don’t recommend you do cold therapy immediately after lifting, especially if your goals include muscle-building. While it can speed recovery, the anti-inflammatory effects of cold exposure could reduce muscular gains, so wait 12-24 hours after weight training.[13]

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When to Talk to Your Doctor First

Similar to physical activity, for most people, cold therapy is safe and healthy as long as you take basic precautions.

However, if you’re not in good cardiovascular health, or have problems like high blood pressure, arrhythmias, or a family history of heart disease, you should ask your doctor first.

Sudden cold exposure can alter your heart rhythm and cause vasoconstriction, which may cause complications in people with heart problems.

You should also ask your doctor first before trying cold therapy if you have diabetes, are at risk of seizures, or take any prescription medications.

If you experience unwanted effects from cold therapy, such as headache or skin irritation, you should back off temporarily. If the symptoms don’t go away on their own, speak to your doctor before resuming cold exposure.

The Science