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Are there physical and mental health benefits to taking a polar plunge?
Sue loves cold water and says it helps to reduce her stress and anxiety when she plunges into ice-filled lakes in Canada, where she lives. But if you are just a beginner, she recommends starting off with a cold shower and says to try and not react to the cold and keep your body still. She says the cold will trigger the body's fight or flight response and if you are able to remain still, Sue contends this can help the body and mind learn how to better adapt, something she feels has benefits outside of the water.
Mike warns that taking a polar plunge can increase your blood pressure and can affect your breathing and explains this is "not something to be undertaken lightly." He stresses to always do this activity under supervision, with others present, and in a controlled way. He notes many people say the cold water helps them feel more alert, and some claim it helps keep them from getting sick. He says the data surrounding this claim is "largely anecdotal," but notes there may be some evidence that taking a short dip in cold water (1 to 2 minutes ) might "activate or prepare the immune system."
Watch as Sue takes a dip in water that is barely above the freezing temperature and she explains in order to stay immersed in the water she must focus on breathing and exhale for longer than normal.
*Warning, do NOT try this at home as you need to be trained for a polar plunge -- and find out how Sue is doing after taking her icy dip, in the video below!