22. June 2020
Happier, healthier, more efficient! Isn’t that what we all want? According to Dutch “Iceman” Wim Hof, everyone can strengthen their own resistance. How? With cold and the so-called Wim Hof method. This technique consists of three components: Breath training, cold therapy and inner strength. But what is this method about and what does it look like exactly?
Cold. Very few people like it. Freezing is unpleasant and we prefer to avoid it by wearing warm clothes and using radiators. Cold shower? No thanks. But according to Wim Hof, you should reconsider this in the future.
Keen to do a little experiment?
But before it gets cold, the Wim-Hof-method starts with the right breathing technique. Sit down in a quiet place and breathe in deeply through your nose 30 to 40 times, so that your stomach is visibly bulging outwards. Be careful to direct the air into your chest. Afterwards, the breath should simply be “let go” and not actively exhaled. After the last exhalation, try to hold your breath as long as possible. Then inhale deeply again, holding your breath before you exhale. Repeat the whole process three to four times. Stay relaxed, focused and conscious. This has a calming and simultaneously activating effect. Do you notice how awake and clear you feel? Applied daily, this sensation will increase even more.
Cold is the second part and a very important part of the Wim-Hof method. A good start is to take a cold shower for 5-7 seconds a day at the beginning, gradually adding a few seconds. Soon you will manage a few minutes. According to Wim Hof, 2-3 minutes is optimal. Cold showers not only stimulate the blood circulation, but can also help to burn fat and increase well-being in the brain, due to happiness hormones being released. As a preparation, the breathing technique should be used in advance.
The last step? Willpower and inner strength – consciously create a connection between body and mind and create, endure and train physical and mental stress in a controlled manner: This step is necessary for the first two pillars in order for the effect of the Wim-Hof method to unfold at all. It is all about self-commitment and stamina.
You might be asking yourself if all of this is really worth is. According to Wim Hof, this technique has helped him to perform at peak level and break world records. These include climbing Mount Everest in shorts and doing a half-marathon across the Arctic Circle barefoot and in shorts. Of course, these are all extreme examples and not necessarily worth imitating. But they show what the body is capable of. According to Hof, cold can be endured through proper training. In 2018, researchers investigated what exactly happens in Hof’s brain and body when he is exposed to cold temperatures. According to their study, his breathing technique, which is carried out beforehand, initially causes the muscles in the rib area to boost their metabolism and release heat. This warms up the blood in the pulmonary vessels. The blood flow ensures that his extremities cool down relatively slowly. At the same time, certain regions in Hof’s brain become particularly active, activating the body’s own substances and reducing the sensation of pain. The exposure to cold leads to a release of adrenaline, which has a vasoconstrictive and anti-inflammatory effect. This in turn leads to an increase in white blood cells, which are responsible for the defence against bacteria and viruses. Regular exposure to cold activates the “good” brown adipose tissue in the body and converts glucose and fatty acids into heat, while at the same time breaking down unhealthy white adipose tissue.
In addition to strengthening the immune system, mental health and general wellbeing will likely also improve. You should get more energy and vitality. Your concentration could improve and you might become more efficient and more resistant to stress.
Convinced? Perhaps you will soon learn to love the cold.