Chill Out & Thrive: Exploring the Remarkable Benefits of Cold Plunge Baths for Health & Vitality

By Dr. Jeffrey Long PT, DPT, OCS, CMPT, CSCS, Cert. DN

Cold plunge baths have become significantly more popular within the last few years. With all the social media influencers promoting them and the rapidly increasing popularity they may seem like a fad, but there is good reason as to why more and more people are doing them as part of their health, wellness, and daily routines. In this blog we are going to highlight some of the most beneficial effects that cold plunges can have on one’s health and wellbeing.

Improved Body Composition

First, let’s talk about fat. We have two main types of fat in our bodies – white fat and brown fat. White fat, also known as blubber, is how we store energy from excess caloric intake. In regards to warming the body up, white fat does not produce heat; Instead, it acts as an insulator against cold. brown fat, however, does produce heat. It does this by burning fat cells and releasing them as triglycerides into our blood streams, thus producing heat. Brown fat is considered healthier and more energy efficient. It has been shown that repeated cold plunge baths can transition our white fat into brown fat, which makes us more efficient at producing heat and burning fat for energy.

Increased Metabolism

Cold plunges also have a positive effect on metabolism. Energy/temperature transfer is 4x greater in water versus air, meaning our body temperatures decrease 4x faster in cold water than they do in cold air of the same temperature. Once our bodies reach a certain temperature our peripheral and central thermoreceptors stimulate shivering, which is highly energy dependent and increases our metabolic rate. This helps us burn calories during and after cold water immersion. This effect is maximized when we allow our bodies to return to normal temperature after cold plunging, rather than using the sauna or warm water immersion.


Another benefit of cold plunges includes a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol is high long term, it can have numerous negative effects to one’s health including the following: high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes, immune suppression, osteolysis (breaking down of bone), and myolysis (breaking down of muscle). It goes without saying that this can have detrimental effects on one’s health and wellbeing.

Immune System Function

Furthermore, cold plunges improve immune system activity and as a result help to fight off infections. There is an increase in activity of the following immune system cells after cold plunging: lymphocytes, T cells, leukocytes, and monocytes. An increase in zinc concentration has also been shown post cold plunge and is correlated to the following benefits: less frequent colds, improved wound healing, improved diarrhea symptoms, and decreased age-related macular degeneration.

Increased Norepinephrine

Cold plunge baths also increase norepinephrine which increases arousal, attention, cognition, and stress reaction. This is one of the reasons that we have some patients perform the cold plunge prior to physical therapy here at Physiopros Performance Rehab. This helps to improve performance during their session. This is also the reason that it is beneficial for athletes to perform the cold plunge prior to competing; an increase in this hormone can lead to improved performance during competition.

Increased Insulin Sensitivity

Finally, cold plunge baths can lead to an increase in insulin sensitivity. This can lead to improved ability to process blood sugar and store it as glycogen for energy. When one eats any type of carbohydrate, the body digests it and breaks it down into glucose which is transported throughout the body in the circulatory system. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and released into the blood stream to convert glucose into glycogen, which is stored in the skeletal muscles and liver as a source of energy for anaerobic activities. In type II diabetics insulin production and function is limited, which is why high blood sugar and the resultant complications occur. Therefore, cold plunge baths can provide benefits to those who suffer from type II diabetes.

Here at Physiopros Performance Rehab in Parsippany, New Jersey we offer recovery room sessions that include the cold plunge, infrared sauna, and Normatec compression massage boots. Each session is forty-five minutes for you to use all three of the above with the room to yourself. The recovery room can be used in conjunction with our physical therapy services, or it can be done alone to help with all of your recovery, performance, and rehabilitation goals. Contact us at 973-265-8621 or to experience all of the above-mentioned benefits and add to your recovery, rehabilitation, and wellness journey!


  1. Esperland, D., de Weerd, L., & Mercer, J. B. (2022, December). Health effects of voluntary exposure to cold water – a continuing subject of debate. International journal of circumpolar health.
  2. Zinc. (2023, August 10). Mayo Clinic.
  3. Çay, M., Uçar, C., Şenol, D., Cevirgen, F., Özbağ, D., Altay, Z., & Yıldız, S. (n.d.). The Effect of Cortisol Level Increasing Due to Stress in Healthy Young Individuals on Dynamic and Static Balance Scores. İstanbul Kuzey Klinikleri.