I have vivid memories of 90s ads for the Polar Plunge in Anchorage when I was a kid. I think my grandpa did one or two, but I always remember looking at people gearing up to jump into icy water and thinking
"Why the fuck would anyone do that?"
Polar plunges were usually done for charity, so there's that. Sidebar: I never understood why people couldn't just donate to a cause instead of making someone do something strenous/dangerous/humiliating in exchange for a donation.
Polar plunges have been a tradition in North America (as an organized activity) since the early 1900s. IN Canada, most of the time this is done on New Year's day, in the UK it's done on Boxing Day.
But there has also been an uptick in "cold therapy" that I've seen online recently. People who buy old freezers and fill them with ice water and sit in them. People claim that it reduces inflammation, increases immunity, and automatically makes you better than people like me who look at it and go
"fuck right off hard no". I've also seen claims that it helps you lose weight, and while there may be some evidence for that but even the study I looked at that claimed it helps said that the volunteers were all young slender healthy men?!
Another claim is that the cold is better for inflammation and could benefit autoimmune disease. I WILL TELL YOU FROM MY VERY UNSCIENTIFIC STUDY OF EXISTING that this is a bag of shit. I am NEVER in more pain than when I am cold. Also RA is more prevalent in NORDIC countries.
One study claims that it could help with depression. This claim was based on 2 "studies" one in which ONE person with a history of anxiety and depression did cold water swimming (not the same as the dip) who was able to go off her medications. The other was done in people with NO HISTORY OF DEPRESSION.
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