Continued … Part two….
MY CHILL FACTOR
Why I Do It … And Why You Should Start NOW!
The human circulatory system is made up of spongy arteries and veins that carry our blood supply (and oxygen) to every tissue. Arteries carry red, oxygen rich blood away from the heart and lungs while blue-tinged veins carry it back. This vast and complex network of vessels would extend more than 100 000 miles long for an adult, if they were lined up end to end, they would circle the equator four times! Your 5.6 litres of blood only takes about 20 seconds to circulate throughout the entire vascular system, travelling almost 12 000 miles through the system a day – which is roughly four times the distance across the U.S. from coast to coast.
Lining most of the important veins is a similarly complex network of tiny muscles that contract the flow of blood away from one particular area to boost the supply to another – this is an active and responsive system. So when we hit the ice at freezing temperatures our body naturally begins to shiver, in hope to generate internal heat. If we stay long enough our body may begin to shut down and our blood flow is now at it’s limit and begins to draw away from the fingers, toes and limbs to protect our inner organs. Our brain automatically preserves the core at the expense of our extremities – no thought needed, it just does this! Beneath the surface of our skin a series of nerves and muscle responses occur and this can be felt, so for a person not regularly conditioned to temperature shifts, this cardiovascular constriction can be painful.
The immediate sensations when you hit the water can be shocking. Whilst your veins are constricting and you begin to breath faster, your pupils begin to dilate as your heart rate rises, you may even get the urge to move around to warm your body up. Even though you may feel it – and your mind may even tell you so (unless you are in temperatures where frostbite is likely), you’re not in any serious danger. In fact the body knows exactly what to do and within 30-60 seconds will begin to adapt naturally. By controlling your breathing and extending your exhales you can begin to tap into your sympathetic nervous system simulating your rest and digest response. This response begins to clam down the mind – as your breath slows down, your pupils retreat from dilation and your heart rate moderates. This requires concentration.
The cold therapy will stimulate the thyroid hormone production, increasing the cellular metabolism by up to 300 percent and produces brown fat to heat the body naturally. It will take about one week of cold therapy training to really have an effect, over this time your stores will grow and that brown fat will passively suck white fat from your bloodstream and burn it for body heat. So what does this mean physically? You can heat your body from the inside out and burn a shit load of calories in the process! In my personal experience during my masters one week training it was hard for me to keep any body weight on, I was eating a lot of food but seemed to be burning the calories faster than I could consume them!
Although the weight lose as a result of continued cold therapy has been amazing, it’s my immunity that has impressed me the most. Since I began cold exposure, I haven’t been sick, this will be the first winter that I have not had the cold or flu or any symptoms of any kind of sickness. This is no coincidence, there is a reason for this! Subjecting your body to bouts of cold temperatures is a way of stimulating our immune sys
tem and cardio respiratory system.The cold signals the body to go into “fight or flight” mode which in turn will trigger an immune response. After continued cold exposure it has been recored to effect us with “small, but significant, increase in the proportions of lymphocytes.” Lymphocytes are the body’s cells that fight infection, so having more of these guys when you’re feeling a little under the weather is a welcome physiological adaption of the cold.
So, how can we consciously control the immune system to fight off diseases? It is undoubtable that our immune system plays a significant role in almost all devastating diseases plaguing the modern world, and finding a way to improve it can help us discover new avenues for medicine.
Optimal immune health is defined as a balanced state where the body has an adequate biological defence to fight disease and infection. This “balance” is also known as “homeostasis” and our understanding of it was greatly helped in 1915 – thanks to a French scientist called Charles Riche.
Charles Richet said, “The living being is stable. It must be so in order not to be destroyed, dissolved or disintegrated by the colossal forces, often adverse, which surround it. By an apparent contradiction it maintains its stability only if it is excitable and capable of modifying itself according to external stimuli and adjusting its response to the stimulation. In a sense it is stable because it is modifiable – the slight instability is the necessary condition for the true stability of the organism.”
Maybe if we had of listened … the world wouldn’t be so sick? Thankfully, Wim Hof and many other practising Cold Therapy training discovered a way to improve our immune system where homeostasis positively adjusts in “response to the stimulation”. Simple exposure to the uncomfortable cold every now and again – who would have thought!
“25 years ago I said the autonomic nervous system (that controls the immune system) will no longer be autonomic. Many people mocked me and said I was crazy. Now we know.” Says WIM HOF.
Part three…following very soon….