Icy swimming could break down fat and reduce risk of diabetes, review suggests Science and technology news
According to a review, an icy swim could have significant health benefits, including reducing body fat and reducing the risk of diseases like diabetes.
About 104 studies were reviewed by researchers, who found that many reported major health benefits of cold water swimming, including good fats that help burn calories.
This could help prevent obesity and cardiovascular disease, but researchers said the overall health benefits are unclear.
The review found an apparently positive association between cold water swimming and brown adipose tissue (BAT).
BAT is a good body fat that is activated by the cold and burns calories to maintain body temperature.
It differs from “bad” white fat, which stores energy.
Repeated ice swimming could significantly increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin concentration, the study found.
Researchers from UiT The Arctic University of Norway and the University Hospital of North Norway completed the study, which was published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health.
Much of the research available involved small numbers of people, often of one sex, and with different water temperatures and salinities, the researchers said.
And it’s unclear whether winter swimmers are inherently healthier, they added.
Russian ice swimmers are unaware of bitter cold
Lewis Pugh wants to attempt the ‘coldest swim on earth’ – and says it will be the biggest challenge of his career
Lead author James Mercer of UiT said: “It is clear from this review that there is increasing scientific support that voluntary exposure to cold water may have some beneficial health effects.
“Many of the studies showed significant effects of cold water immersion on various physiological and biochemical parameters.
“But the question of whether these are beneficial to health or not is difficult to assess.
“Based on the findings of this review, many of the health benefits claimed from regular colds may not be causal.
“Instead, they can be explained by other factors, including an active lifestyle, stress management skills, social interactions, and a positive attitude.
“Without further meaningful studies, the topic will continue to be discussed.”
The researchers warned that swimming in icy water also carries risks such as hypothermia and heart and lung problems related to the temperature shock.