Your Shopping Cart

It appears that your cart is currently empty!


What are the benefits of cold water therapy?

by vybey UK |

Here at vybey we are keen to further understand and educate our consumers on the different ways in which we can improve the health of our bodies. From providing it with the necessary nutrients through our meal replacements to exercise and innovative methods such as cold-water therapy.

Cold water therapy is a craze that has been sweeping across the globe over the last few years, but how does cold water exposure benefit our bodies?

Before diving into the benefits, it's key to distinguish what cold water therapy is and what it means.

Cold water therapy is a form of hydrotherapy - The use of water internally or externally at various temperatures for the improvement of health or for the treatment of various diseases[1].

Cold water therapy is a minute or more of exposure to either cold showers or full body immersion in an ice bath or other water e.g., a cold lake (also known as a ‘loch’ in Scotland). Research has suggested that a minute is the minimal amount of time the body needs in order to reap the rewards of the cold-water exposure.

But what are the rewards?

Individuals that regularly practice cold water therapy will already know how remarkable the benefits are for their mental health. The very act of pushing you out of your comfort zone and braving the cold can give you a sense of confidence and achievement that can do wonders for your mind!

Dr Susanna Søberg and Dr Rangan Chatterjee speak about this in his podcast, Feel Better Live More, where they explain the science behind this - the feel-good hormones produced, and the fact that cold exposure activates both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It puts us under healthy stress, or hormesis, which in turn builds our resilience to other sources of stress in life. Put simply, do more stressful things to build up your stress armour!

Further benefits of cold-water therapy include increased metabolism and possibility of weight loss, increased immunity, improved mental health, as well as ease of muscle and joint pain.

Boosts metabolism, weight loss and the immune system

  • The cold water helps increase production of brown fat cells which break down sugar and fat, usually found in children under the age of 10. However, Brychata and Chen (2019) found that continuous exposure to cold water can help reactivate brown fat cell production[2].
  • Brown fat cells are activated just before the body begins to shiver, causing cold-induced thermogenesis (the body's metabolic rate increases), acting as a source of heat production in order to counterbalance heat loss[3].
  • Increase in brown fat cells and metabolism helps the body burn more calories increasing the possibility of weight loss.
  • Exposure to cold water also benefits the immune system. Jansky et al. found that the increased metabolic rate elevated the concentration of a neurohormone called catecholamines, which regulates the immune system and inflammatory responses[4].

Eases muscle and joint pain

  • Cold water therapy can help ease muscle and joint pain especially after a workout - exposure of cold-water temperatures can help increase the speed of muscle recovery.
  • This is important after Intense exercise where microtrauma occurs or put more simply tiny tears in your muscle fibres[5]. Although this stimulates cell activity and strengthens the muscles that were being trained it is also linked with delayed onset muscle pain and soreness[6].
  • A Cochrane review of 14 studies that compared cold water intervention with passive intervention after exercise, found that cold water immersion showed significant effects on reducing muscle soreness after just 24 hours[7].
  • Muscle soreness is reduced through the cooling down of muscle tissue temperature providing an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Additionally cold-water immersion reduces the speed at which nerves such as pain receptors send messages to the brain - this reduces an individual's perception of pain[8].

Improve mental health

  • The mental health benefits from cold water therapy have been found to be incredibly significant.
  • When the body is exposed to the cold water, electrical impulses are sent to the brain increasing the release of mood-elevating hormones such as endorphins, as well as neurotransmitters that improve symptoms of depression[9]- Leading to increased optimism, clarity, and a greater sense of wellbeing.
  • Shevhuk (2008) found that when exposing his body to cold water repeatedly it had lasting therapeutic effects improving his depressive mood, increasing the pleasure he'd find in day-to-day activities, and improving his ability to concentrate[10].

As described above cold-water therapy can offer us so many benefits which is why it is such a shame that it is often glazed over when seeking to improve our health. Hopefully, this blog has highlighted how even a cold shower can significantly benefit multiple different aspects of our bodily functions, as well as our mental health. So, give it a go, and see how different you feel!


[1] Mooventhan, A., & Nivethitha, L. (2014). Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body. North American journal of medical sciences, 6(5), 199–209.

[2] Brychta, R. J., & Chen, K. Y. (2017). Cold-induced thermogenesis in humans. European journal of clinical nutrition, 71(3), 345–352.

[3] Vosselman, M.J. et al. (2014) Frequent extreme cold exposure and brown fat and cold-induced thermogenesis: A study in a monozygotic twin, PLoS ONE, 9(7). Available at:

[4] Janský, L., Pospísilová, D., Honzová, S., Ulicný, B., Srámek, P., Zeman, V., & Kamínková, J. (1996). Immune system of cold-exposed and cold-adapted humans. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology, 72(5-6), 445–450.

[5] Krzysztofik, Wilk, Wojdała, & Gołaś. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(24), 4897.

[6] Bleakley, C. et al. (2012) “Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise,” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Preprint]. Available at:

[7] Janský, L., Pospísilová, D., Honzová, S., Ulicný, B., Srámek, P., Zeman, V., & Kamínková, J. (1996). Immune system of cold-exposed and cold-adapted humans. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology, 72(5-6), 445–450.

[8] Bleakley, C., McDonough, S., Gardner, E., Baxter, G. D., Hopkins, J. T., & Davison, G. W. (2012). Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2012(2), CD008262.

[9] Bleakley, C.M. and Davison, G.W. (2009) “What is the biochemical and physiological rationale for using cold-water immersion in sports recovery? A systematic review,” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(3), pp. 179–187. Available at:

[10] Shevchuk, N.A. (2008) “Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression,” Medical Hypotheses, 70(5), pp. 995–1001. Available at: