I am sure you have heard of the Dutch extreme athlete Winhoff.  Winhoff has stood in a container of ice cubes for just under two hours plus climbed Kilimanjaro in shorts and T-Shirt. Cold water and ice bathing is nothing new and I first worked with the method was first introduced to me through Physiotherapist Rebecca Hodgekiss at Wigan Warriors back in the 1990’s. The boys used the ice bathing at the end of every training session. You can see Wigan warriors in the video here going from extreme hot to cold at the old studio in Manchester city centre.

Did you know that most of us spend too much time in temperature controlled environments and away from the shifts of hot and cold. The false temperature causes us to age more than ever. In fact when we sleep the room temperature should be a maximum of 18 degrees.

This week I embarked on my first ever cold-water dip in South shields with current UK Master Coach of the Year, World Class Coach & International Speaker. A Straight Talking, Businessman Paul Mort. I cannot expect to be coaching and teaching others unless I am going on my own journey of learning and changing myself.

I was not in the mood to cold water dip, having taught till 9pm the night before and then driven over 3 hours in roadworks to get there. However as I headed to the beach and met my fellow tribe, I was ready. We started with some amazing meditation and breathwork and then headed for the sea. The cold water stung my body as I entered, my arms followed and went into spasm. Again the same as exercise, the benefits do not happen when you are participating, they happen after. As I left the water I felt surprisingly warm.  Although I was only in three minutes I felt energised and invigorated. I felt I could do it again, in-fact I am going to do it again.

My belief system was holding me back. I hate the cold as you all know, but having changed my mindset and given this challenge ago. I will be definitely be doing this again and creating the opportunity to partake.

So today I am raising the question:

“Does cold-water therapy purposely block weight gain as you age?”

So what is the evidence behind cold water? Firstly everyone is different and anyone with a high allostatic load should not be shocking the central nervous system in any way. This will result in catabolic breakdown. This is why I always assess rather than  guess. Below as many of you have seen Paul Chek’s chart, is the stressors that effect the body.

Some of the benefits of cold-water exposure is that it increases androgens (your growth and repair hormones). This can help with adrenal gland fatigue as the cold is a natural stimulant of adrenaline

The desired effect is that the blood pushes to the surface creating a sympathetic reaction to keep the body warm. As your body starts to numb, the arterial tree contracts and you experience a hunter’s reflex that pushes your core to protect your organs. The hunting reaction or hunting response is a process of alternating vasoconstriction and vasodilation in extremities exposed to cold.  Approximately five to ten minutes after the start of cold exposure, the blood vessels in the extremities will suddenly vasodilate.

These sympathetic/parasympathetic reactions and exercises keep your blood system strong. They also help your body become more capable of handling your environment. My understanding is that for those people who are not in the right constitution. They should not do cold water therapy as they are not ready for the shock. They should just start small with the back of a hand or back of a leg.

Getting cold on purpose helps keep fat cells stay acting young in layman’s terms. As we age we become more insulin resistant, plus more glucose intolerant plus we become more chronically inflamed.

By combining cold water showers, dips and cutting poor quality carbohydrates and sugar, plus having a good practise of nutrition, breath-work, sleep and hydration. The result is a boosted and supported metabolic and immune health. Aging is associated with insulin resistance plus low grade chronic inflammation and decline in thermogenic activity and redistribution. Brown fat can take the stored energy and generate heat. As we age we must train our fat cells to be more thermogenic. As we age our thermogenic capacity declines. We also tend to gain weight as we age.

The research paper: ‘Aging and Immunometabolism Adaptations to Thermogenesis’- tells us that thermogenesis both in mice and human, and their activation by adrenergic stimuli promotes energy expenditure, reduces adiposity, and protects against age-related metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

When we are babies, we have brown fat around the clavicle and the cheek area as well as the abdominal and axial area. As we partake in processed foods plus white devils and temperature-controlled environments, the ability to stimulate the brown fat decreases. We lose the adaption in thermogenesis which is forward for a setting of disease and aging.


Aging and Immunometabolic Adaptations to Thermogenesis; PMID: 32810648DOI: 10.1016/j.arr.2020.101143

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