The Importance of Staying Cool!

The Importance of Staying Cool! by Matt Williamson

{4:06 minutes to read} In our last article, we talked about snow rooms, so it seems appropriate to follow up with a conversation about the importance of staying cool.

The cooling-off stage of any thermal bathing experience, particularly the parts involving cold water, produces a powerful temperature stimulus—even stronger than the heat stimulus, which has a more gradual onset. Air conducts heat more poorly than water, so although the heat stimulus is an intensive one, the effect on the body builds up over a period of time. In contrast, taking a cold shower has an instant impact on the skin’s nerve endings, and thus triggers stronger bodily responses.

This forms part of the process of reaction training. If a cold shower constitutes a powerful stimulus, we follow it with a pronounced relaxation phase. The end effect is similar to the sudden release of stress hormones, and as a result, the cold shower has a euphoric mood enhancing effect.

The cold causes the rapid contraction of the dilated blood vessels, thus preventing them from shedding any more heat. This provides highly effective training for your blood vessels, particularly the veins, which have weaker and much thinner walls than arteries. The blood vessels in the skin also contract strongly, a result of which is blood pools in your body core, increasing the blood supplied to organs such as the kidneys, reducing their exertion and waste products. This pooling of blood in the body can be particularly pronounced if using a plunge pool or cold deluge shower, so this should be avoided by people with high blood pressure. Gentler means of cooling—such as ice fountains or cool misting showers, starting with peripheral body parts then moving closer to the heart—are preferable in these cases.

You may be tempted when cooling down to test your toughness, but you should only build up your cooling program gradually. Emerging from a hot cabin such as a sauna, and jumping straight into a bank of snow or under a cold shower is something that a person’s circulation can withstand given practice, but should not be attempted by a beginner. Always be aware that this will not enhance the helpful effects of the sauna. Always start the cooling off process in the air. The overall beneficial effects of the sauna on body and soul really come into their own through the repetitive alternation of heat and cold. This stimulates your skin’s cellular regeneration and provides good and targeted training for the circulatory system. If done correctly, it does not exert an undue stress on the body. Incorporating thermal bathing as part of a fitness regimen after physical exertion also helps the recovery process.

Hot/cold alternation trains not only the immune system but also the entire hormonal system, which has to respond to the broad array of stresses and physical exertions, intellectual and psychological. The benefits of this type of thermal bathing training are clear and compact. Regular bathers suffer significantly fewer infectious diseases or complaints such as headache, irritable bowel syndrome or menstrual disorders, and even benefit from the excellent anti-aging expedient which makes regular sauna users look younger and feel generally in equilibria.

Matt Williamson
Design for Leisure
715 Discovery Blvd.
Suite# 408
Cedar Park, TX 78613 USA

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