Ice baths are a common practice used by athletes all over the world as a way to recover quickly from exercise. 10-15 minutes in water that is about 50-60 ºF is the standard agreed upon by nearly every professional in both the health and sports industries.
The most common benefit of ice baths that most people are aware of is that it supports muscle recovery and reduces soreness, but there are actually much more benefits than just that. Cardiovascular health can actually be strengthened through cold water therapy, and it has the ability to boost your blood flow in the long term.
Submerging your body in cold water causes blood to surround your vital internal organs. This is something your body does automatically when exposed to very cold temperatures as a way to protect the things most essential to maintaining life. When this happens, however, your heart is forced to pump blood much more efficiently and through more parts of your bloodstream.
Your blood vessels are small pathways that connect to your arteries and veins to supply blood towards more parts of your body. Those who are older or have high blood pressure are less likely to supply blood to all of these blood vessels and suffer from poor circulation as a result.
The more training your heart has to pump blood efficiently is essential to maintaining good circulation throughout your lifetime. Taking ice baths are one of the few ways you can actively and safely train your body into strengthening its cardiovascular health. Those with a history of heart disease or moderate to severe high blood pressure may be at higher risk for suffering from adverse side effects, though, so ensuring your body can handle cold temperatures of 50-60 ºF is important to train your heart safely.