Are Cold Exposure and Skiing Healthier for Us Than We Thought?

Ski season is back! And with it comes the cold, but is the cold better for us than we thought? (Photo: Joris Berthelot)

Winter is upon us! The first ski resorts have been opened and there is skiing for all of us to be had.  With the snow and skiing comes the cold weather, so you know what that means, time to bundle up and stay warm… or does it?

In a world where we’re constantly trying to find ways to make ourselves healthier, there have been numerous studies on the health benefits of cold exposure.  There are several experts that suggest partaking in the practice of cold exposure, whether it be cryotherapy, ice baths, cooling vests, cold showers,  or just being outside in the cold.

Cold exposure has been shown to have a plethora of health benefits.  It lowers body fat by increasing metabolism as well as BAT (Brown Adipose Tissue) which burns off storage fat to keep you warm, enhances immune system functions by increasing levels of immune system cells, reduces inflammation after strenuous physical activity, and even releases mood-boosting hormones into your brain.

Cold exposure has been shown to have a number of positive effects on the human body, as depicted here. (Graphic: Chilled Out Wellness)

One of the best examples of the success of cold exposure is Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof, also known as the “Ice Man”.  Wim has set records for the longest swim under ice, fastest barefoot half marathon on snow and ice, and longest full-body contact with ice.  Hof has also managed to climb both Everest and Kilimanjaro in only a pair of shorts! (Though he was turned around before the Everest summit due to a persisting foot injury).

Dutch extreme athlete, Wim Hof, one of the leading endorsers of cold exposure. (Photo: Chapter Fifty)

Hof, as well as other experts, claim that there are psychological benefits that come along with cold exposure. They say that it builds mental fortitude, discipline, and increases one’s ability to deal with extreme environments. While there is less scientific evidence behind these claims, they do have the support of many celebrities and athletes alike.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like my showers warm in the morning, so this may just seem like some interesting information that you probably won’t use.  However, many of us have already begun skiing for the season and the rest will be out there in the cold and on the slopes shortly… and it sounds like skiing has some positive effects on us that we were completely unaware of!

(MORE: Farmers Almanac Prediction – Super Cold and Unusually Snowy Winter)

So, the next time your heading out the door to snag some turns when it’s 0 degrees outside and your friends tell you you’re crazy, you can tell them they’re wrong.  All you’re doing is working to speed up your metabolism, burn some fat, prep your immune system for flu season, and improve your discipline for when Monday comes around.

Heck, it sounds like we should all double the amount of time we spend skiing.  The health benefits are just undeniable.