Episode 58

Is Cold Plunging Good For My Health? (with Mike Tipton, PhD)

Have you ever TAKEN THE PLUNGE?? Cold water immersion is one of hottest trends in the health and wellness world. 

A number of theories exist re: the benefits of cold water immersion. Generally we think of recovery from exercise, muscle soreness, injuries, etc. But the recent “craze” has been due to the potential to improve depression and anxiety, boost immunity, and perhaps even extend our longevity.

But does it work? Is there data to support it??


Our expert today is Mike Tipton, PhD, FTPS!

  • Dr. Tipton is a Professor of Human & Applied Physiology, Extreme Environments Laboratory, School of Sport Health & Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, UK.
  • He has published over 750 scientific papers, reports, chapters, abstracts and books in his research areas of drowning, thermoregulation, environmental and occupational physiology, and survival in the sea. 
  • He has been a consultant in survival and thermal medicine to the Royal Air Force, UKSport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS). 
  • Prof Tipton is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and The Physiological Society. 
  • He was awarded his MBE for services to physiological research in extreme environments; the Ireland Medal for saving lives from drowning worldwide; and the H&L Swiftwater rescue lifetime achievement award from the USA.


Key highlights in this episode include:

What's the basic physiology behind cold water immersion?

What happens to our bodies when we make ourselves cold? Does it differ in full submersion vs a shower? Does it change if we put our faces in the cold water as opposed to just our bodies?

What temperature is most appropriate for a cold plunge?

How long should we stay submerged?

What are the potential short and long term benefits? What does the research suggest?

What are the risks/potential downsides?

Who should NOT be doing this?

What about cryochambers? Do they work?

Who is Wim Hof? Should we do as the Iceman does??

Dr. Tipton recommends the following resources to learn about cold water immersion:

The University of Portsmouth webpage- including Dr. Tipton's profile.

2022 British Medical Journal article "Cold Water Therapies: Minimising Risks".

Beth Francis' video "100 Days of Vitamin Sea", chronicling her journey treating her intractable migraines with open water swimming.

Check out Prof Tipton on Twitter, @ProfMikeTipton!

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About the Podcast

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About your hosts

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Jeremy Alland

Dr. Jeremy Alland is a sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH, a renowned, consistently top-10 nationally-ranked orthopedic practice in Chicago, IL. In addition to a busy clinical practice, he serves as the head primary care team physician for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Dogs, as well as a team physician for the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Fire Soccer Club. An avid athlete, Dr. Alland played collegiate baseball for DePauw University before pursuing medicine and enjoys golfing, basketball and stand-up paddleboarding. He lives in a suburb of Chicago with his wife, Katie, two children, Olive and Logan, and their goldendoodle, Archie. He never thought he would have a podcast, but has found it insanely fun and is excited to bring fun and approachability to the most common questions we hear as doctors.

"Work Hard + be kind" -The Alland Kitchen Wall
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Julie Bruene

Dr. Julie (Julia if we’re being formal, Julia Rose if she’s in trouble) Bruene is a sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH, a renowned, nationally-ranked orthopedic practice in Chicago. She serves as a team physician for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, and DePaul University. Aside from her obvious interests in sports and medicine, she is a true crime obsessive and is a total sucker for rescued cats. She lives in Chicago with her husband and partner-in-crime, Adam, and with several of the aforementioned rescued cats. We don’t need to get into specifics about the exact number here. She likes when people are kind to one another and when animals dress up like other animals. Rock over London, rock on Chicago.