Chris Hemsworth swam in freezing Arctic waters to regain his health for the new “Limitless” series.
Evidence shows that a 30-second cold shower a day can provide the benefits of cold therapy.
Regular exercise can be just as good for your overall health as exposure to ice.
Chris Hemsworth surfed and swam in Arctic waters to test the limits of human endurance in what he said was one of the toughest experiences of his career.
The “Thor” actor took on the challenge of swimming 250 yards across an icy Nordic fjord without a wetsuit in pursuit of a longer, healthier life for the new National Geographic series “Limitless,” which will premiere November 16 on Disney+.
To accomplish this feat, he worked with Ross Edgley, a sports scientist and extreme athlete, who Hemsworth described as “one of the fittest humans on the planet,” setting a world record in swimming.
The shock of submerging yourself in ice water has evidence-based benefits for longevity and health, according to Edgley.
“Cold water triggers some very powerful survival mechanisms,” he said in the episode. “Controlling the body’s response to cold can have enormous health benefits.”
While Hemsworth took on other extreme challenges for the series, including a Navy SEAL-style “drowning-proofing” test, he said the Arctic swim was the hardest.
“Halfway through, my brain felt like it was being stabbed by a thousand knives,” he told Men’s Journal.
Swimming in cold water is dangerous, especially if you don’t have an expert safety crew, as you can experience hypothermia and death.
But you don’t need to go Artic diving to reap the benefits of cold therapy. Research shows that regular exposure to cold through smaller, safer doses can boost metabolism, improve energy and mood, and protect the body from some of the side effects of aging. And if you hate the cold, you can get the same effect just by exercising regularly.
A quick cold shower can help regulate your immune system to prevent illness
Hemsworth may not be rushing to jump into the freezing ocean again, but by the end of the episode, he has changed his daily habits to incorporate cold therapy, such as making the last 30 seconds of an ice shower.
The routine is based on a 2016 trial that found participants who completed a cold shower had fewer sick days at work.
Between 30 seconds and three minutes at about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit may be enough to see benefits, according to research — no arctic excursion required.
Ice baths can relax muscles, but avoid them after a workout to maximize results
Hemsworth also swears by ice baths to help with muscle pain, longtime friend and trainer Luke Zocchi previously told Insider.
Evidence is mixed about its benefits – ice can reduce pain and fatigue, and research shows it may not improve recovery.
Too much cold too soon can actually slow muscle gain, Zocchi said, by preventing the muscles from building back properly from the wear-and-tear of exercise.
New research also suggests that icing may not help with muscle injuries and pain, contrary to previous theories.
Regular exercise offers the same benefits without the freezing
If you hate the cold, you don’t have to suffer for your health, because other habits like vigorous physical activity have the same benefits, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Exercise can help improve blood flow, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and improve mental health, according to evidence.
To relieve muscle pain and boost results without freezing, try active recovery in the form of low-impact exercise like walking or cycling, a personal trainer previously told Insider.
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