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A series: Health-promoting practices from around the world - HOT & COLD edition

If you’re like us, one of your favorite topics of conversation is health and well-being. You find yourself looking for, talking about and sharing the latest and greatest “hacks”; be that a device, a supplement or a practice. This is how we start our daily team meetings, simply sharing what we have recently tried or learned about (that cannot be just us!?).

Since we come from all corners of the world -with Japanese, British-Indian, American-Chinese, French, Bahraini, American and Colombian team members, we are a truly distributed team-, we love sharing our favorite health-promoting practices and thought we would include you in the conversation… starting with the temperature-related practices!

If you took a screenshot of our Zoom room, you would see tank tops, the odd bathing suit (#worklifeblend), sweaters, and more often than not, a down jacket. 

Because some of us are in the middle of winter and others live in the always-sunny parts of the world close to the equator, we oscillate between saunas and ice baths very frequently. 

Here’s a list of the most popular hot and cold therapies. And because we’re curious, we’d love to know if you do any of them in your daily or weekly routines. Which one is your favorite? Which one would you like to try next? 

1. Sauna
Sauna Place

As Dr. Rhonda Patrick puts it, bathing oneself in heat for the purposes of purification, cleansing, and healing is an ancient practice, dating back thousands of years and observed across many cultures. Variations of its use are seen today in the banyas of Russia, the sweat lodges of the American Indians, and, most famously, the saunas of Finland.

“Heat bathing”, specifically in the sauna, is characterized by short-term passive exposure to extreme heat. This exposure elicits mild hyperthermia – an increase in the body's core temperature – that induces a thermoregulatory response involving neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and cytoprotective mechanisms that work together to restore homeostasis and condition the body for future heat stressors. 

Regular sauna use helps increase circulation, reduce stress and flush toxins from the body.  It can also help to reduce inflammation and reduce risks of cardiovascular disease.  Additionally, saunas help increase immunity and sleep quality.  

2. Cold plunges

Cold plunges

 

The Scandinavians love their cold sea and lake swimming while the Germans and Austrians are known for forests with Kneippbaeder: tubs of water with alpine stream water that you’re meant to walk in barefoot when taking a break during a long hike. Cold water bathing activates cold shock proteins which leads to synapse regeneration in the brain, increases Brown Adipose Tissue which burns more fat, increases the number of mitochondria we have, as well as the ATP or energy produced by those mitochondria and stimulates overall circulation.

3. Steam baths:

Steam baths

 

Steam baths have been used for centuries because of their rejuvenating and healing benefits. Ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Roman and Ottoman were well aware of the beneficial and soothing effects of steam baths to the mind and body and were often part of their daily routine. Although similar to saunas, steam rooms provide unique benefits because of the quality of humidity. In addition to improved circulation, a steam bath promotes healthier looking skin, relaxed muscles and a sense of calmness.


Stay tuned for the next part in the series: Health-promoting practices from around the world: NATURE edition