Janet Moje
Cold therapy - Why you shouldn’t hibernate in winter

So far this season we have escaped the blast of old man winter, but we still have to get through February and March. Don’t dread it.

Instead, consider it good for your health and find reasons to get outside and benefit from the cooler temperatures. Cryotherapy or cold therapy treatments and equipment can come with hefty prices so we are fortunate to have the opportunity to reap the benefits for free.

Exposing your body to cold temperatures will boost your metabolism. It reduces inflammation, increases circulation, eases swelling and relieves aching muscles. It is also linked to improved sleep quality, boosted immune system and energy levels, and increased mental focus.

Engaging in cold therapy on a regular basis increases brown adipose tissue, considered the healthier fat to pack around. Some doctors recommend cold therapy as part of post-surgical rehabilitation because it reduces swelling and inflammation, and helps achieve normal function of soft tissues sooner.

Cold Myths

Contrary to common belief, being outside without a hat or jacket is not going to give you a cold. Neither will going outside with wet hair. The reason people get sick more often during winter is because of indoor air quality where there is more exposure to germs. You don’t lose most of your body heat through your head either. You lose heat equally through any exposed areas.

There are various ways to employ cold therapy techniques. Cold compresses, ice packs, cold showers, ice baths -- the possibilities are only limited by your imagination, tolerance and doctor’s advice. But getting outside on a cold day is likely the easiest way to start and may be the most enjoyable too.

Snowshoeing, skiing or hiking

These outdoor activities will give you plenty of great exercise and if you do them regularly, it is easy to ease your way into cold therapy benefits along with them. Wear a lighter jacket or sweater. Keep in mind that your body will work harder to keep up its core temperature, so you may need to rest more often to compensate for the extra work your body is doing.

Snow shovelling or wood stacking

Working outdoors will also provide great exercise and it is quite natural to remove your jacket after being out there for a while. So start out by wearing lighter clothing in layers when you go outside, and peel them off as you warm up. Again, rest when you get winded.

Sleeping

Sleeping with an open window is a good practice even in the winter. Keeping your bedroom cooler is healthy too, but to ease in cold therapy, sleep with less blankets. You can slowly work your way to sleeping with no blankets at all. Those who practice this claim they wake up refreshed and have a high-quality sleep.

For those more bold

Walking barefoot in snow is another way to employ cold therapy. Exposure time would be much less than the above activities and you have to be more aware of temperatures and exposure times to avoid such things as frostbite. The annual “polar bear swim” of plunging into water on January 1st is another kind of activity which would have a short exposure time. This has been practiced since 1904.

Don’t hibernate from winter. Take advantage of what it has to offer, and you may just find it takes care of you.