Wim Hof’s nickname ‘Iceman’ is certainly appropriate, with the 63-year-old holding 21 Guinness World Records records for ‘superhuman’ acts in the extreme cold.
Now the Dutch motivational speaker and athlete is determined to take what he has learned on his journey into the deep sub-zero and teach as many as possible about cold therapy and how it can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even disease.
The father-of-six sat down with FEMAIL to chat about the ‘tremendous benefits’ from the Wim Hof Method that starts with a reconnect with nature.
‘We’re always in this state of weakening warmth, covered up in layers of clothing, and never exercising the cardiovascular system. So a cold shower a day keeps the doctor away,’ Wim said.
And despite climbing a freezing Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts, and standing in a container full of ice cubes for record 112 minutes – Wim says he actually ‘hates’ the cold.
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Wim Hof (pictured) has become known worldwide as ‘The Iceman’ after withstanding freezing temperatures, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in shorts, and standing in a container full of ice cubes for 112 minutes
The Dutch motivational speaker and extreme athlete has shared the ‘found knowledge’ on cold therapy and how it can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and disease
What are the benefits of cold showers?
To unlock the benefits of cold therapy, you just need to have a cold shower every day.
Wim said being exposed to the cold can assist with depression, anxiety, energy levels, and may even prevent illnesses such as cancer.
Wim said claims you can even treat depression with cold therapy, with complete submersion leading to a 540 per cent increase in adrenaline and a 250 per cent in dopamine – both of which are known to help moderate symptoms.
‘What you will see is that your heart rate goes down during the day, reducing your stress levels. You feel more energised. The improved blood flow delivers better nutrition to your cells. You find you don’t get sick anymore,’ Wim said.
Combined with the Wim Hof Method, the body can undergo a full cardiovascular workout to destress and improve strength from the inside out.
Start by taking a cold shower for 15 seconds one day, then 30 seconds the next day, and continue extending the time by 15 seconds until you reach 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
What are the benefits of having a cold shower daily?
Research shows cold showers can assist with reducing inflammation in the body and decreasing stress, which can assist with:
- energy levels
- decreasing sickness
- mental clarity
- weight loss
- cancer and disease
Start by taking a cold shower for 15 seconds one day, then 30 seconds the next day, and continue extending the time by 15 seconds until you reach 2 minutes and 30 seconds
Gradually work towards increasing your exposure and never force it
‘What you will see is that your heart rate goes down during the day, reducing your stress level. You feel more energised. The improved blood flow delivers better nutrition to your cells. You find you don’t get sick anymore,’ Wim said.
What is the Wim Hof Method and how does it work?
The Wim Hof Method is a form of meditative therapy and a practical way to become healthier, happier and stronger.
It consists of three components – deep breathing, exposure to cold water, and a focused mindset.
Wim said the first step, the breathing, is ‘like a broom that cleans the body’s biochemistry’.
‘By doing the breathing exercises, you’ll increase the blood flow everywhere in the body and brain, decreasing inflammation,’ Wim said.
To unlock the benefits, all that’s required is to take a cold shower everyday – something anyone can do to gain the power within themselves
Through his practices and research with scientists, he’s developed the Wim Hof Method consisting of three components – deep breathing, exposure to cold water, and a focused mindset – to allow anyone to gain the benefits for free
The breathing ‘activates the adrenal access to the brain, reduces inflammation, alkalises the blood, and regulates the body’.
Then, the cold ‘makes you strong from the inside out’ because millions of tiny muscles, veins and capillaries become stronger.
‘The muscles contract which allows for better blood flow, a slower heart rate and more energy,’ Wim said.
Mindset and focus is also a significant component that contributes to unlocking the health benefits by letting go of personal ego and send attention to your body instead.
‘We all have this power. When you go into the cold, you’re not thinking anymore, you’re just doing,’ Wim said.
What is the Wim Hof Method?
The power of the Wim Hof Method is the combination of the three pillars.
A committed, consistent practice including the breathing technique and cold exposure can help you unlock a host of benefits including:
- Increased energy
- Better sleep
- Reduced stress levels
- Heightened focus & determination
- Increased willpower
- Stronger immune system
Source: The Wim Hof Method
How does Wim Hof tolerate the cold?
Surprisingly, perhaps, but the ‘The Iceman’ doesn’t actually love cold as much as you’d think – in fact, he loathes it.
‘When people say ‘this guy loves the cold’, I say: ‘No I hate it!’ But the therapeutical powers of the cold are tremendous, and because they are tremendous that is why I love it,’ he said.
Wim said it is also important to clear the mind and think about ‘absolutely nothing’ before cold treatment.
‘All you’re focused on in surviving, your body goes into fight or flight mode,’ he said.
For his 63rd birthday he spent 63 minutes in an ice-cold bath.
‘Frankly, when I’m in icy water, I have fun. I have complete control over my body, and I love it,’ he said.
‘Sometimes I challenge myself, but mostly a couple minutes a day of going into the icy water is enough to fully adapt for a fully cardiovascular exercise.’
The Wim Hof Method book can be purchased from Big W, Amazon or directly from the website here.