Cold Plunge

I always like to associate winter sauna with ice swimming (polar plunge in the U.S.).

There are some published studies on the subject of health benefits of jumping to a frozen lake. Some studies suggest that the body produces more adrealine which then gives you that euphoric feeling of accomplishment. Other studies suggest that cold plunge improves the elasticity of the veins and and exercises the heart. Especially if you go from hot sauna to a cold water you subject your system to two extremes: in a hot sauna, your veins expand because of the heat and your blood pressure drops, your heart rate goes up to maintain the blood pressure so that you won’t faint. When you then jump to a cold water, the opposite happens: veins shrink and blood pressure increases. All good exercise but take a small break in between the two extremes and think twice if you have cardiovascular conditions.

As for the recovery effect, many pro athletes take ice baths to recover so maybe that works. I still didn’t make it to the Tokyo Olympics so this might be individual.

In the absence of a lake and temperatures that would actually make the lake freeze, I just have to improvise. Internet is full of great ideas for cold plunge ranging from purpose build freezer-looking tanks that go for $5,000 to people using their old chest type freezers to anything and anywhere in between.

I decided to go an inexpensive route for this one and just got a 100-gallon plastic stock tank from a hardware store ($100). Then I happened to have some 2×2 trims left from my previous amazing projects so I made a cover around the plunge to make it look less cheap :). Finally, I dropped a submersible led light on the bottom to add nice hue.

Using this plunge is pretty much as easy as you would probably think: fill it with garden hose, throw a few bags of ice if you like,and use it. I usually use the water for the plants the next day so nothing goes in waste.

My goal was to be able to do a routine of sauna –> cold plunge –> hot tub —> rinse –> sauna in the colder season and that’s what I got.

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