The benefits of cold training in water, ice and air have been touted throughout history. The ancient Greeks used cold water for relaxation and therapies. Hippocrates wrote about cold water as a pain-reliever and Napoleon’s surgeon recommended ice and snow to relieve pain during amputations.
Scientific investigations started much later, though. In the 1960s, the focus was on post-exercise recovery before it shifted to research about survival in extreme temperatures. Only recently has metabolic health come into focus.
While there are many benefits (as detailed in the section research) cold exposure is not without risks. That’s why we follow emerging science closely and have a leading European cold researcher on our board. It is our goal to provide you with the most up-to-date, scientifically sound information as well as with current trends and practices, including some that have not been thoroughly scientifically investigated but have proven effective in real-world training.
From the wonderful and inspiring book "Out of comfort zone" written by our ambassador Deniz Kayadelen to "Winter Swimming" by Danish scientist Susanna Søberg. "Achieving the Impossible" by the pioneering UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, is almost a classic. Ram Barkai shares fascinating stories about swimming in Antarctica and Lake Zurich in "From Fire to Ice". No matter which of the books you open next, they all have good information and inspiring insights about the theory and practice of winter swimming and cold exposure.
Risks of cold exposure
When we immerse ourselves in water colder than 15°C, a strong stress reaction sets in. This starts a whole chain of biochemical and physiological changes. Blood pressure rises and the cold shock can cause gasping. If water is inhaled, there is a risk of drowning. Because of the risiks involved, anyone who considers starting with cold training should therefore consult a doctor.