Should You Cold Plunge When Sick? Not Really.

Should You Cold Plunge When Sick? Not Really.

Pilates Blog 15 minute read

Should You Cold Plunge When Sick?

Understanding the Cold Plunge

Cold plunging, often referred to as a polar bear dip or cold water immersion, involves submerging oneself into water with temperatures ranging from 50°F to 59°F. This chilling experience is not just for the thrill-seekers; it's a practice with a long history in various cultures and has been associated with numerous health benefits.

Benefits of Cold Plunging

Cold water immersion can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and even boost mood. Those who regularly engage in this practice claim to feel more alive, focused, and energized after taking the chilly dip.

The Body's Reaction to Cold

Jumping into cold water might feel like a shock at first. This sensation is your body responding to the sudden temperature drop. Blood vessels constrict, heart rate increases, and your breathing might become rapid. However, with regular practice, many people claim that their bodies adapt and become more resilient to the cold.

The Science Behind Cold Plunging

Boosting Immunity

Some studies suggest that cold water immersion can stimulate the immune system. The body's response to the cold can increase white blood cell production, potentially helping to ward off illnesses.

Endorphin Release

Feeling euphoric after a cold plunge? That's thanks to the endorphins - your body's natural painkillers. They provide not only a mood boost but can also help alleviate pain.

Impact on Circulation

Cold plunging can help improve blood flow and circulation. As blood vessels constrict in the cold, the heart pumps more forcefully. Once out of the cold, the vessels dilate, allowing fresh oxygen to reach our organs.

Weighing the Risks and Benefits

Pros of Cold Plunging When Sick

Being under the weather can drain your energy, but cold plunging might offer a quick pick-me-up. By enhancing circulation and releasing endorphins, you could potentially feel better after the dip.

Cons to Consider

However, it's essential to be cautious. If you're running a fever, the sudden temperature change could be a shock to the system. Plus, the body is already working overtime to fight off the illness, and additional stress might not be advisable.

The Role of Body Temperature

Remember that our body temperature plays a crucial role in fighting off infections. If you're already feeling chilly or have the chills from a fever, it might be best to skip the cold plunge.

Expert Recommendations

Medical Views on Cold Plunging

Most doctors advise caution when considering cold plunging, especially when sick. It's essential to consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying conditions.

Fitness Guru Opinions

Some fitness experts swear by cold plunging for recovery and revitalization. However, even they emphasize the importance of listening to one's body and understanding individual limits.

Personal Anecdotes

Many who have tried cold plunging when feeling under the weather have mixed reviews. Some feel invigorated, while others believe it made them feel worse. It's a testament to how individual our bodies are.

Guidelines for Safe Cold Plunging

Precautions Before Taking the Plunge

Always ensure you're in a safe environment, preferably with someone to supervise or join you. Avoid staying in the cold water for extended periods, especially if it's your first time.

Ideal Duration and Frequency

Start with short durations, no longer than a minute or two, gradually increasing as your body becomes accustomed. Limit the frequency to once or twice a week initially.

Listening to Your Body

This can't be emphasized enough: always listen to your body. If something feels off or if you're feeling too unwell, it might be best to skip the plunge for the day.


What is cold plunging?
Cold plunging involves immersing oneself in cold water, typically ranging from 50°F to 59°F.

Can cold plunging boost immunity?
Some studies suggest it might stimulate the immune system by increasing white blood cell production.

Is it safe to cold plunge when running a fever?
It's advisable to avoid cold plunging if you have a fever, as the body is already working to fight off an infection.

How long should I stay in the cold water?
For beginners, a minute or two is recommended, gradually increasing the duration over time.

How often should I cold plunge?
Starting with once or twice a week is a good rule of thumb, adjusting based on how your body reacts.

Are there risks associated with cold plunging?
There are potential risks, especially if done without precautions. It's crucial to be in a safe environment and always consult a medical professional if unsure.

In Conclusion

The question, "should you cold plunge when sick?" doesn't have a one-size-fits-all answer. While there are potential benefits to cold plunging, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons, especially when feeling under the weather. Consulting professionals and listening to one's body are paramount. After all, health is wealth, and it's better to be safe than sorry.

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