With fans like Chris Hemsworth, Steve Aoki, Kristen Bell and many other celebrities, cold plunges are quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in wellness. As the name suggests, a cold plunge is submerging your body in cold water, usually under 60 degrees Fahrenheit). And some proponents claim it can boost energy, decrease stress and help with focus and sleep.
Potential cold plunge benefits
The science behind cold water immersion is complex and still developing, but a handful of studies have linked the exposure to outcomes ranging from improved metabolism and enhanced immune response to reduced inflammation. Ice baths have long been linked to muscle recovery, especially among athletes, and a reduction in pain or swelling. Other research has linked mental health to the practice. In a recent study, people reported experiencing increased motivation and confidence after swimming in cold water, and in another study participants exhibited enhanced mood after a single 20-minute immersion in cold sea water.to
Forward Recovery, a substance use disorder recovery center in California, has a cold plunge at its treatment center. Lonnie McCreery, the co-owner of the facility, often uses it with clients, reporting that it can help with focus and relaxation.
“When your body hits the cold water, there’s a moment of panic. But when you can make it past that point, there is a strong feeling of relief and accomplishment,” McCreery explains. This can be extremely helpful for someone in recovery who is learning to find other coping skills.
How to cold plunge: Cold plunge best practices
If you’re new to cold therapy, doctors recommend building up your tolerance gradually. As with any practice, you also want to check in with a health care provider first..
Just as the benefits will be different for everyone, the timing and temperature of the preferred cold plunge experience will vary from person to person. Some people prefer to start their day with a cold plunge, likening it to a morning coffee or tea ritual. Others find solace in using the cold-water bath to recover from a workout or unwind after a long day. Ardent fans claim that engaging in regular cold plunges can lead to faster and more significant results, but the frequency of plunges depends on personal needs, objectives and availability.
“In a world where we all suffer from busyness, escaping for a moment can sometimes be a challenge,” says Nick and Kelly Hammond, a husband-and-wife duo who own Elevated Embers, a mobile sauna company in Tampa, Florida. “That’s why we felt it so important to create a space where we can bring those moments of escape to you.”
Winter is the perfect time to indulge in these cold weather plunges, especially if you live in a place where the water gets quite cold. Cities like Chicago (Waukegan Polar Bear Plunge), New York (Coney Island’s Polar Bear Plunge) and Boston (L Street Brownies annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge) take advantage of their lake and ocean access and offer cold plunges, also known as “polar plunges,” as a New Year’s Day ritual. Some wellness resorts and hotels have cold tubs or pools as part of their spa treatment packages. Of course, unique businesses like Elevated Embers bring the cold tub to you to enjoy in the comfort of your backyard.
“A driving force for us has always been accessibility. We want to empower people to prioritize their mental, physical and social health and not have to drive hours or plan months in advance to do so,” Hammond adds.
Where to find a cold plunge near me: 6 best cold plunges in the U.S.
1. Elevated Embers
Elevated Embers is a mobile Finnish-style sauna and cold plunge business located in Tampa, Florida. The team transforms your outdoor space into a private oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation and offers a revitalizing cold plunge tub as part of their “Embers + Ice” experience.
2. Conrad Orlando
The Spa Water Garden at Conrad Orlando in Orlando, Florida, which debuted in January 2024, is an immersive extension of the Conrad Spa’s wellness offerings. This aquatic oasis provides a circuit of hot and cold experiences, enhancing the overall sense of well-being. You can quiet your mind in the vitality pool and invigorate your senses with the cold plunge. Emerging from this outdoor sanctuary can lead to feeling centered and invigorated, making the Spa Water Garden a vital component of the Conrad Spa experience.
3. Nordic Spa at High Country Motor Lodge
Relax and rejuvenate at the Nordic Spa Experience at High Country Motor Lodge on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona. Begin by inducing a sweat in your private sauna, followed by a refreshing dip in a private cold shower or in the lodge’s outdoor pool. This age-old tradition of alternating between hot and cold treatments helps overall wellness by soothing muscles, eliminating toxins and boosting metabolism. The fire pits on site are a perfect spot to unwind for a few minutes before embarking on another Nordic cycle. Guests have the option to complete multiple Nordic cycles within their 50-minute session for maximum cold plunge benefits.
4. The Springs Resort
While the Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, serves as a premier hydrotherapy spa with 25 different soaking pools fed by the deepest geothermal hot spring in the world, a unique daily cold water experience awaits guests. Every day at noon, guests are invited to the “Warrior Plunge”—a guided contrast bathing ritual designed to evoke the courage of their inner warriors. Participants embark on a journey starting with a serene soak in a warm pool, followed by an exhilarating plunge into the refreshingly cold waters of the San Juan River, concluding with a lively warrior cry. This ritual offers numerous potential benefits, including reduced inflammation and muscle soreness, along with strengthened immune and stress responses. The plunge, which lasts approximately 10-15 minutes, is complimentary with all resort stays.
5. Mohonk Mountain House
At Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, guests are treated to a unique lakeside immersion spa therapy experience. This involves a refreshing dip in Lake Mohonk, a guided yoga stretching session and warm ginger inhalation therapy in the lightly heated Spa Motion Room. This sequence can enhance circulation, increase range of motion, alleviate muscle soreness and elevate mood. Situated just 90 miles north of New York City and surrounded by 40,000 acres of pristine forest, the Victorian resort, built in 1869, supports the Hudson Valley community and beyond.
6. Lake Austin Spa Resort
The Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Texas, is an all-inclusive, adults-only 40-room destination spa and wellness retreat. Here, guests can paddleboard, kayak, canoe, hike and relax by the lake or take in one of the many fitness classes, wellness lectures or yoga sessions offered. Wild Water Wellness programming was recently introduced by wellness expert Cindy Present and ranges from paddleboard meditations and guided walks to cold plunges into the brisk waters of Lake Austin. This allows guests to partake in the surging interest of wild, natural water wellness right outside their rooms as part of the resort’s nightly rate.
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