I like to chill out, but probably not in the sense you’re used to.
My kind of chilling means daily and regular cold therapy – situations in which I purposefully place my body in a cool to cold environment. Am I crazy? You might think so, but once I explain all the health benefits of cold therapy, there’s a good chance you’ll be reaching for the ice cubes.
First of all, forget the old wives’ tale about how being cold gives you a cold; it’s just not scientifically true. In fact, methodical exposure to cold may help boost levels of human growth hormone and testosterone, improve insulin resistance, manage inflammation, boost mental health, improve sleep, assist with weight loss (by activating the burning of brown fat), and make you feel stronger overall. Who wouldn’t want all of those benefits!
Cold therapy can mean several things. For example, I try to be on the verge of being cold every day by wearing less clothes or layers than may be necessary for the weather. I also take ice baths three to four times a week alternating them with time in my infrared sauna (alternating hot and cold therapy). You don’t need an infrared sauna however to appreciate the benefits from cold therapy, so don’t let that stop you. You can get similar benefits from alternating hot and cold showers. But remember – always finish with cold, not hot.
In my case though, I spend 20 minutes in my infrared sauna followed by 8 to 10 minutes in an ice bath and then I repeat this rotation 3-4 times, again, always finishing with cold. Ice baths are great for promoting recovery after a workout because it constricts your blood vessels and sends lactic acid and other toxins out of your muscles while also perhaps boosting your T levels.
Why do I say “perhaps”? Currently there’s no hardcore science to back the practice of cold therapy for boosting testosterone production or low T treatment. However, your balls are outside the body because high temperatures stymie sperm production, which suggests the testicles work best when they are at a lower temperature. In addition, research has shown that the optimal temperature for DNA synthesis, sperm production, and probably testosterone as well, is 87 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit, which is lower than your body temperature.
In a three-year study of 6,455 men, researchers found that sperm volume, quality, and motility were significantly higher during the winter months. Because the same hormones involved in sperm production also affect testosterone, it seems that cold may help boost T manufacturing as well.
Back to the ice bath. When you get out of the ice bath, your blood vessels will expand and welcome in freshly oxygenated blood into your muscles and accelerate tissue repair. That’s the healing effect.
All you need is a tub and lots of ice. Run cold water into a tub and add a few bags of ice until the ice layer is about two inches thick. Put on a pair of shorts (to protect delicate areas) and submerge your lower body into the icy water. The first few times will be a challenge to tough it out for several minutes, but you eventually want to work up to ten minutes of full-body immersion—that’s the goal. And you will feel amazing when it’s over!
Another cold therapy step I take is cryotherapy twice a week. This involves getting into a frozen nitrogen-filled chamber for three minutes (which is the maximum time allowed by law). This practice will bring your core skin temperature down to about 33 degrees F. I use cryotherapy mostly for accelerated healing and exercise recovery, and it has an added bonus of boosting my energy levels. Cryotherapy comes with a price tag (about $30 to $40 per session) and while not an option for everyone, is something to consider, especially if you are a hardcore athlete. Check around your area for a local cryotherapy clinic – as they often provide discounts on the first few visits.
Last but not least, I also recommend sleeping in a cool room, around 65 degrees F, and in the nude if possible. Many professional athletes I know use a ChiliPad, which is a mattress pad equipped with a temperature control system that circulates water through microtubes. Keeping your body at a lower temperature throughout the night can improve sleep quality as well as contribute to all the other benefits of cold therapy I mentioned. Since sufficient sleep is critical for testosterone production, getting enough Zzzzzs is a win-win situation. Me? I’m still trying to convince my wife to allow me to buy a ChiliPad. At the moment she’s not that excited about having half the bed turned into a fridge!
So try out some of the suggestions above. Staying cool means a healthier, stronger, and a more energized life as you age!
Levitas E et al. Seasonal variations of human sperm cells among 6455 semen samples: a plausible explanation of a seasonal birth pattern. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2013 May; 208(5): 406