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Cold snap: the benefits of cold spa treatments

New research reveals even more wellbeing benefits of cold therapies

We're in the midst of the winter months (although have thankfully passed the shortest day), but with the chill outside and the ongoing trend for wild swimming, winter dips and the Wim Hof method, what better time to discuss the healing powers of cold spa treatments?

Lots of us are familiar with heat treatments in spas - the therapeutic benefits of a thermal suite as you travel from sauna to steam room, hydrotherapy pool to experience shower. However, part of the thermal experience also includes ice caves, plunge pools and even cryotherapy chambers. The question is, why?

New studies, published in August and September, have thrown weight behind the potential benefits of exposure to low temperatures and swimming in icy waters. We have long been aware of some benefits (the Romans were fans of a good thermal suite), but what's wonderful is that there continues to be more to learn.

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Possible benefits of cold therapies

Spa Business wrote that authors highlighted the positive links between cold water swimming and brown adipose tissue (BAT), a type of ‘good’ body fat that’s activated by cold. They also wrote: "cold exposure in water – or air – appears also to increase the production of adiponectin, a protein which plays a key role in protecting against insulin resistance, diabetes and other diseases."

In addition, Swedish scientists at the Karolinska Institute, found that "low temperatures make it more difficult for cancer cells to grow." We would always be very wary of that type of claim, and it's worth noting that this study was on mice.

Spa Business reported that: "The theory is that turning down the thermostat activates heat-producing brown fat that consumes the sugars that tumours need to thrive."

We keep our fingers crossed that it's an area of research that proves positive going forward.

Read our beginner’s guide to thermal suites|Find out more

Other benefits of cold spa experiences

The more widely reported benefits of cold therapies ranging from cold water swimming to cryotherapy, include:

  • Boosting immunity
  • Improving sleep
  • Helping to combat depression/improve mode
  • Aid weight loss
  • Pain relief (e.g. sports injuries)
  • Reduces inflammation

The best ice spa experiences

For those who don't fancy a dip in icy cold waters, or who want to explore the variety of cold therapy options available, spas have lots of different experiences you can enjoy. Why not try them all?

Discover six icy treatments to give you a snow inspired glow

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