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Should You Cold Plunge While Sick?

Apr 24, 2024

 

One of the main reasons that cold plunging has swept the nation is due to the massive health benefits with a strong focus on boosting the immune system. Everyone is excited about the results that we've seen in blood pressure regulation, mental health, stronger bodies, and better immune systems, all from cold water immersion.

One of the things we need to know before diving in, so to speak, is, "Should I cold plunge while I'm sick?" Is it an instant boost to your immune system like a dose of medicine, or does it work like standing in the rain?

There is a short answer and a long one. The short answer is that it isn't recommended.

To expand on that... cold and flu viruses are known to weaken the immune system. It makes the body work hard to maintain an appropriate core body temperature, and placing yourself in a state of physical stress will make it even hard for you to compensate. Cold water also causes the blood vessels to constrict in your nose and throat, which makes it harder to breathe. If you've had a cold recently, you know that difficulty breathing is the last thing you need to add.

In short, cold water exposure to a sick body makes the sickness worse instead of better. On top of that, it's very uncomfortable. So, save yourself the time, trouble, and hit to your health, and stay in for this one.

Does Cold Plunging Boost Your Immune System?

Science says that to cold plunge when your body is ready for it, will lead to big boosts in your immune system.

That being said, the caveat there is that your body does need to be in a state where it can compensate for the physical stress. If you are ill (with symptoms such as fevers, chills, aches, and so on), you are likely to see those symptoms worsen after taking ice baths. If you think about when you have a bad cough, how cold air makes everything worse, it's similar.

You'll see that some people prefer to cold plunge while they're sick. Cold water immersion stimulates leukocytes, which are the white blood cells that help fight of illness. Of course, it is up to the person and what they know their body can handle, but there are times when it becomes absolutely clear that you should not partake. If you have heart issues or a fever, for example, being immersed in cold water could be catastrophic to your health.

Can I Soak in Cold Water if I'm Sick?

While we do recommend that you avoid cold plunging while you're sick, try seeking an alternative. You can warm up the water and take a "cold plunge" in something closer to 65 degrees. This won't cause your body undo shock but you will still feel refreshed.

How Can I Cold Plunge Safely While I'm Sick?

Use your discretion as to how sick you really are. If you're just feeling aches and pains with no fever, a cold plunge is a good way to activate the body's natural painkillers and relieve some of that tension.

However, if you have a fever or you're struggling to get enough air, it could be very dangerous to expose your body to such stress as accompanies certain levels of cold exposure. Instead of your regular plunge, maybe take a quick, cold shower.

What Are The Risks of Cold Plunging While Sick?

As with any kind of strenuous physical activity, you run the risk of making an illness worse by partaking. You read above how an ice bath can cause your body to react in certain ways.

You may have read elsewhere that it is important to have a good understanding of breathing techniques before taking a plunge. If you've ever been exposed to cold showers, you can probably understand something of what will happen when you fully submerge in a big bucket of freezing water. This is why breathing techniques are so important. If you're sick, breathing may already be difficult and adding a layer of stress is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

Can I Build My Own Cold Plunge at Home?

You can! And the best part is, it's not that hard.

Brandon with DIY Pools and Spas has created a comprehensive course for exactly this purpose. He loves the benefits that people are seeing from cold water exposure, and he wants the opportunity to be available to everyone.

Having someone build you a cold plunge or ordering one online can be expensive, time-consuming, and leave you with a product that is oversold, or underdelivered.

If you build it yourself, you can take charge of the project. The course walks you through everything, start to finish so that you're never left feeling out of the loop, and the DIY kit means you have everything you need from the beginning of the project. It's the best way to get a professional build for an attainable cost.