Taking a dip in cold water may help cut ‘bad’ body fat in men and even decrease the risk of diabetes, according to a new study. The study was published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, a peer-reviewed journal.
Many of the 104 studies that the authors analyzed show that there were significant effects from cold water swimming, including brown fat, also known as ‘good fat’, which can help burn calories. According to the study’s authors, being in cold water may help protect against obesity and cardiovascular disease.
The review was not conclusive on the overall health benefits of cold-water bathing, say the team of review authors from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and the University Hospital of North Norway.
Most of the available research involved a small number of participants and mostly only male participants. It is still unclear if people who swim or take dips in cold water are healthier.
“From this review, it is clear that there is increasing scientific support that voluntary exposure to cold water may have some beneficial health effects,” lead author James Mercer said.
“Many of the studies demonstrated significant effects of cold-water immersion on various physiological and biochemical parameters. But the question as to whether these are beneficial or not for health is difficult to assess.”
“Based on the results from this review, many of the health benefits claimed from regular cold exposure may not be causal. Instead, they may be explained by other factors including an active lifestyle, trained stress handling, social interactions, as well as a positive mindset,” he said.
The authors say that it is important to be educated about taking dips in ice water and knowing the possible health risks. There are risks of hypothermia and of heart and lung issues which are often related to the shock from the cold.
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