Mood enhancement

Mood enhancement

The first thought someone understandably has upon hearing of people voluntarily submerging themselves in freezing water is “why on earth would anyone do that??” The answer is simple: short term pain, long term gain. Deliberate cold water immersion results in the co-release of the catecholamines (neurochemicals) norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine in huge amounts, WITHOUT negatively elevating cortisol (stress hormone) levels (17)(18)(19)(20). In simple terms – deliberate cold water immersion leaves you feeling elated, energised, and positively motivated. In peer-reviewed literature this is not new information – a highly lauded study from 2000 measured markers in blood levels before, during, and after head-out immersions in cold water and documented consistent, irrefutable increases in these catecholamine levels (1). After submersions they recorded a metabolic rate increase of 350%, norepinephrine level increase of 530%, and dopamine level increase of 250%. Even more encouraging is the fact that the final measurements (from bloods taken two hours after exiting the cold water) indicated these significant increases were maintained during that entire post-plunging period - though anecdotal evidence suggests it lasts much longer (19)(20).

1. Sramek P, Simeckova M, Jansky L, Savlikova J, Vybiral S. Human physiological responses to immersion into water of different temperatures. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2000;81(5):436-442. doi:

17. Kelly JS, Bird E. Improved mood following a single immersion in cold water. Lifestyle Medicine. 2021;3(1). doi:

18. Espeland D, de Weerd L, Mercer JB. Health effects of voluntary exposure to cold water – a continuing subject of debate. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 2022;81(1). doi:

19. Yankouskaya A, Williamson R, Stacey C, Totman JJ, Massey H. Short-Term Head-Out Whole-Body Cold-Water Immersion Facilitates Positive Affect and Increases Interaction between Large-Scale Brain Networks. Biology. 2023;12(2):211. doi:

20. Reed EL, Chapman CL, Whittman EK, et al. Cardiovascular and mood responses to an acute bout of cold water immersion. Journal of Thermal Biology. 2023;118:103727-103727. doi: