| Fitness, Health, Lifestyle,

As much dopamine as with cocaine

Beatrice Lessi

Do you want to experience the buzz of taking cocaine, without taking it and without its negative side effects?

Here’s a hack that can genuinely give you a release of dopamine similar to that of taking cocaine, as well as raising your level of serotonin which is often called your happy hormone. It can pump up your oxytocin – your connection hormone – so you’re much more likely to make connections and friendships, and lastly it can boost your neuro adrenaline which can help motivate you and get you go.

The hack is deliberate exposure to cold water.

At least 11 minutes of cold exposure during a week (having cold showers or an ice baths, for example) are enough to give measurable effects.

First time that this has been studied extensively

Northern cultures have been practicing winter swimming of exposure to hot (with saunas) and cold for years, so a lot of anecdotal knowledge has been around for a long time.  But it0s the first time that science is investigating this phenomenon widely.

Dr. Susanna Søberg, PhD, explains some her latest findings in the interview in the video at the end of this blogpost. Some her key findings are that the cold can:

  • Help and improve your health right away
  • Help and improve your health long term
  • Prevent diseases
  • Improve your stress threshold
  • Make you more confident
  • Improve your metabolism
  • Boost your immune system
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Improve resilience
  • Lower anxiety
  • Accelerate and boost recovery
  • Facilitate weight loss increasing the activity of brown fat tissue

One thing only, and it can have so many benefits – there is no pill that can give all that.

Yet we often look for a magic trick, supplement or medicine, but the real magic happens only if we work at things day by day, constantly, and if we change lifestyle. That means work – this is how humans are designed.

Tips for beginners

Personally I didn’t know much about this subject and have recently started cold therapy, because I am preparing for a marathon in the Antarctic and therefore need to train the cold and recover from the training itself.

Being Italian and coming from Tuscany, winter swimming is not in my culture at all. But I have been able to increase my exposure to it gradually and really see some improvements. How to start?

  • Start your shower warm, then gradually go to colder water. Take your time to turn the tap if it makes you feel better
  • When you reach the coldest temperature, stay like that for as little as 15 seconds and aim at 1 to 2 minutes (you should get there in about a week)
  • End your shower cold so the body needs to warm itself up and work best. But you can also finish up with a short moment of lukewarm water
  • For winter swimming, start doing it at the end of Summer and go regularly so you can gradually adapt to colder conditions
  • Try a sauna followed by cold bath or shower to become more used to change of temperatures
  • Cryotherapy or cold chambers are also a valid way to get accustomed to the cold

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