How A Cold Swim Can Help You Burn Fat - Men's Health Magazine Australia

How A Cold Swim Can Help You Burn Fat

New research shows that cold water swimming can help you cut body fat.

Whether it’s the frosty chill of an early morning dip in the ocean to wake you up or an icy bath to cool down after a workout, the benefits of cold water immersion are well known. But there might be an added benefit: frigid water could be the key to cutting body fat.

While devoted disciples of cold water swimming will tell you that they knew this all along and that a brisk swim can lead to weight loss, better mental health and increased libido, there hasn’t been much in the way of actual scientific evidence to support these claims, until now.

Enter a major scientific review from the Arctic University of Norway, where there’s surely no shortage of ice to submerge yourself in. The review looked at 104 studies analysing the effects of cold water immersion. The aim was to determine whether exposure to cold water has any significant effects on human health. Let’s just say the results might give you goosebumps.

“From this review, it is clear that there is increasing scientific support that voluntary exposure to cold water may have some beneficial health effects,” says lead author James Mercer. “Many of the studies demonstrated significant effects of cold water immersion on various physiological and biochemical parameters.”

The review has provided an insight into a link between cold water swimming and the activation of brown adipose tissue, a type of body fat that burns calories. The authors state that “cold water immersion seems to activate and/or transform body adipose tissue, as well as reduce insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity. This may have a protective effect against cardiovascular, obesity and other metabolic diseases.”

In short, cold water shocks your body, forcing it to burn fat to keep your temperature from dropping too low.

The review also found that cold water exposure can have a preventative effect, protecting you from diabetes and heart disease. This is because cold water increases the production of a little-known protein called adiponectin, which regulates sugar levels in your blood and breaks down fatty acid.

Does this mean you should start every day with an ice bath or a freezing dip in the ocean? Frankly, no. The risk of hypothermia is still the elephant in the room when it comes to cold water swimming, as the review indicates. But the next time someone tells you to ‘toughen up’ because ‘it’s not that cold’, you might just have to listen to them.

By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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