Here's a quick tour of my experience with cold water exposure after jumping on the latest trend.
Exposure to Cold Water Exposure
A couple of years ago my son and I were vacationing in Mexico at a resort that had a "cold plunge" pool. I'd passively been aware of potential cold water exposure benefits for decades, but he'd recently done some reading about it so he was intrigued and we partook. Each day for the rest of the trip we would submerge ourselves in the ~52 degree Farenheit plunge pool for about a minute after lunch, and we'd be completely reinvigorated for the second half of the day as though we'd just woken up that morning. My eyes opened to the power of cold water exposure on that trip, and I'm grateful for my son for suggesting we try it.
Looking for things to do during COVID, I found this cold-plunge meetup group in Boulder that puts you in Boulder's creek weekly year-round. I was further impressed with how being in cold water made me feel.
Fast forward a bit more, and our Plunge pool arrived at home a couple of months ago. Since then my partner and I have been spending a few minutes everyday submerged in ~50 degree Fahrenheit water.
First off, I'm one of those people who was told the wives' tale about how being wet and cold will cause you to get sick. Well, nearly 50 years on now, I can tell you that's not true ;). On the contrary, I generally feel my immune system is that much more flexible and dynamic after having been plunging for awhile.
The simplest/greatest benefit I can point to is positive mood impact. The process of plunging simply lights up your entire body: dopamine, adrenaline, endorphines, blood flow, etc. It's quite literally a shock to the system, and you're excited and fired up while doing it, and I'd say for a solid couple of hours afterward. It's been an awesome way to start the day, or kick myself into higher gear in the afternoon if I'm slumping.
I would also report that general inflammation in my body seems down. The aches and pains that come with getting older have subsided a bit.
Eh. There's science out there providing glimpses of "benefit," (a subjective term to begin with) but I can't point to personal clarity around most of it after a couple months of use. Of course you can't argue with the basic physiological/biological science of cold water exposure (i.e. what happens phsyically to your body when you submerge it into cold water), but whether or not that provides "benefit" is often a personal interpretation.
The Huberman Lab was a good resource for me to get my head around the basics of the science end of things.
It was also useful to hear an athlete (Gabby Reece) talk about her experience with cold exposure.
There's of course a lot of other material out there to consume to understand pros/cons of cold water exposure.
I have the https://thecoldplunge.com/ and it's installed outside. I live in Boulder, CO, USA where the weather is super erratic (extreme heat, cold, wind, snow, rain).
Overall I'm not a fan of the design aesthetic, but, I'm not sure how I'd have designed one any better. It's basically a bathtub, so you want something simple and generic, and insulated. So, it is what it is. I'm considering putting some sort of skirt around the exterior of the tub to mask the stark white of it all.
The pool is a non-trivial piece of equipment and plumbing engineering. It has pumps, a filter, piping, a chiller, and a heater mounted on one-side of it (you put that side facing the back so you don't see all of that stuff). The chiller actually sits on the ground on its own, while everything else is mounted to the back of the tub.
After setup, it's basically done and mechanically runs on its own. I've had zero mechanical issues thus far, but, I'm waiting for some at some point. Again, it has a lot of moving parts and I can't imagine they'll all run forever without something failing. But, I'm hopeful that sticking with their maintenance regimin will prolong its life.
The weekly/monthly maintenance stuff is basically pool management, which I didn't know I was signing up for. Weekly, you test ph, and alkaline levels using those little water dip strips, line up the results on a decoder, and add this or that additive/mineral/chemical accordingly to keep things sanitary and clean. Monthly, you change the filter. Once or twice a year you do a full drain of the water and start over. This is the one area I think Plunge could do a better job. The information about how to do all of this feels informal, spotty, and incomplete (errors in the actual documentation). It's also clear after interacting with their, wonderfully responsive, support team, that they don't want to be on the hook for this process. I'm sure there's a lawyer in there somewhere telling them to be light-handed with this process.
I'm quite impressed at how clean the tub and water have stayed, and I'll attribute that to adherence to the maintenance program. I'll be staying on top of it.
Overall, I'm stoked with cold water exposure, and the Plunge pool. I'm thoroughly impressed at their ability to productize this trend with what has been a great piece of equipment thus far.