Cold-water bathing craze sounds interesting. I just need to pluck up the courage to do it – Hayley Matthews

I’ve been following an old guy on Instagram who takes daily ice baths.

Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 4:55 am
Ice baths may not be for everyone (Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Ice baths may not be for everyone (Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images)

When I first saw him filling an old wooden barrel outdoors, with ice, I thought he was off his head.

However, he jumps in, without a flinch, and you can tell he is loving it. He’s clearly on to something and with thousands of posts of people jumping into ice baths, there surely must be a benefit.

So I did some digging and what I read really made me curious. I’ve always heard people talking about the benefits of cold-water bathing, we do it in spas, outdoor swimmers do it, athletes do it, footballers do it, so there are clearly a lot of people involved.

I’ve also heard a few people say they take a cold shower for health benefits – brave people. It made me think of an old friend of my mums called Carlos, who used to walk about the Sleigh Drive/Lochend area. He was very tall and and always well-dressed.

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He would walk about with his Alsatian guide dog Warren and everyone knew him. He used to swear by a cold bath in the morning or as he called it “a colt bat”. I loved his Jamaican accent and how eccentric he was. I used to just think he was bonkers having a cold bath every morning however, despite being blind, otherwise, he was fit as a fiddle. He was into the craze back then in the early 90s.

But while the ice bath/cold-shower craze sweeps the world, all I can muster is my feet in the cold water after a hot shower. I’d love to get to the point when I could run into the sea or slump into a nice ice bath but I can't see it happening until we’re in the summer months. I can't even use that as an excuse to be honest as the ice guy on Instagram is in one of the Nordic countries so it’s probably even colder there than it is here!

So, what is it about ice baths and cold water? Apparently it helps our bodies cope with different types of stress. Your body sends a signal to the heart to beat faster and this helps to heat up our body and give out more energy.

I’ve heard wild swimmers talk about how the increase in adrenaline from being in cold water can create a feeling of euphoria. A bit like ‘runner’s high’.

The body is an amazing thing and who would have thought that cold water could maybe put some pharmaceutical giants out of business! From someone who’s been on happy tablets since 19, I’d gladly try out cold water to release endorphins (a hormone that makes us feel good and can even relieve pain), instead of taking pills that come with many side-effects. I just need to pluck up the courage first.

I always thought athletes did an ice bath to take down swelling and reduce pain. I had no idea that it could improve our overall mood and, ultimately, confidence.

I’m really curious about the benefits of cold water, especially with my eldest son who's experiencing anxiety and low moods. So the ice baths are definitely on the menu in the Hayley household and, hopefully, we’ll all be happy at bedtime.