The Science Behind Cold And Heat Therapy And How To Do It For Maximum Benefit

Cold-water immersion and heat therapy are among the biggest wellness trends of the past few years, but they have a long-standing tradition of being practiced around the world.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m excited to sit down with Dr. Susanna Søberg to discuss the benefits of cold and heat therapy and how they have the potential to activate our longevity pathways and increase our healthspan. Susanna and I talk about what happens in the body during cold-water immersion and its many physical benefits, from strengthening our immune system and lowering inflammation to boosting metabolism and activating brown fat, improving circulation, and stimulating the vagus nerve, which activates your body’s deep relaxation response.

We also talk about some of the mental health benefits and the effects on cognitive performance that cold therapy provides. Susanna shares the best way to get over the mental hurdles of cold immersion, along with techniques for how to breathe before and while in cold water. We also talk about cold showers vs. cold-water immersion and whether or not cold showers offer the same benefits as winter swimming or cold plunges.

We also discuss the benefits of heat therapy. Susanna explains how it helps to increase the production of heat shock proteins and improve cardiovascular fitness, heart rate variability (a measure of the health of your autonomic nervous system and stress resiliency), insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar and blood pressure levels, among so many other benefits.

We talk about the importance of the thermal interchange between hot and cold and why it’s important to end in the cold when doing contrast therapy. Susanna shares best practices for both hot and cold-therapy, including the minimum time threshold—or the sweet spot—for cold and heat exposure to optimize its physical and mental health benefits. I hope you’ll tune in to this fascinating conversation.

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