While we had our doubts about the ‘cult meeting’ that ice-man Wim Hof held in Sydney this year, there’s no denying that an ice bath can be great for your mental health. However, new studies by neuroscientists have revealed that not only is it good for you, but it feels damn good too — so good, in fact, that it blows popular narcotics out of the water.
Liam Royce has taken to Instagram, sharing a beautiful supercut of him and his friends enjoying all the pleasures of outdoors cold water immersion, overlaid with the words of neuroscientist TJ Power, who explains how regular cold water exposure can have a dopamine-boosting effect that makes your favourite party favours look absolutely feeble.
WATCH: Listen to TJ Powers explain the magic of cold water:
According to Power, a drug like cocaine will create a dopamine spike that is two-and-a-half times above the normal levels in the body, peaking around nine minutes after consumption before crashing very quickly thereafter. This crash is what causes the urge to return to the drug more and more frequently throughout any given night, and even plants the seeds of longer-term addiction.
In contrast, cold water immersion can also cause a dopamine spike that is two and a half times the regular level — meaning it has the same uplifting potency that cocaine does — but it rises more gradually over a two-and-a-half hour period, meaning that you feel the motivational benefits for over fifteen times as long as with narcotics.
The other benefit here is that as the dopamine spike from cold water is significantly more gradual than with cocaine, you don’t experience the crashing feeling afterwards. In short, it’s a win-win. Unsurprisingly, people flooded into the comments section to agree with Power’s statements. The most powerful of which was this:
“Love it – lots of research into this… [this is] why so many ex-ravers are now cold water swimmers.@karrenwhittaker
The same dopamine fix and no comedown. Nature + cold water = happy place.”
So, next time your friend sidles up to you in the nightclub and makes eyes for the toilet cubicle, you know what to do: say ‘no, thanks pal’, and get yourself down to Bondi for an ice bath and show them what a good time really looks like.