The Wim Hof Method could change your life. I know it changed mine!
By Chere Di Boscio
Fall’s here and winter is around the corner. While most of us dread the icy weather that’s on the way, there’s one guy for sure who is probably looking forward to it: Wim Hof.
The renowned Dutch athlete has been nicknamed ‘The Ice Man’ for his abilities to withstand freezing cold temperatures, and he has a number of extraordinary achievements to his name, including holding 21 Guinness World Records.
His extensive training in controlling his mind and body has taught him how to dominate bodily functions that most of us think are out of our control: breathing, heart rate, blood circulation and temperature reactions, for example. He attributes these feats to his Wim Hof Method (WHM), a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques and meditation.
Hof is no doubt a fascinating character, so it’s no surprise he’s also the subject of the bestselling book What Doesn’t Kill Us, which tells the story of how the investigative journalist Scott Carney took an assignment supposedly to debunk the Wim Hof Method, but ended up learning about and deeply benefitting from Hof’s techniques.
Some Cool Facts
Although there’s an adage that if your body gets cold, you’ll catch a cold, the opposite is true: exposure to low temperatures can be very good for you! Several studies have shown that exposure to cold increases beneficial brown fat and the capacity for non-shivering thermogenesis. It also reduces white adipose tissue, the form of fat related to obesity. There is some evidence that brown adipose tissue may reduce the risk of diabetes through uptake of glucose and lipids.
Hof himself is enthusiastic about the health benefits of exposing the body to cold temperatures. With the incorporation of the Wim Hof Method, he states that cold therapy can result in:
- Improved immune system
- Better sleep
- An increase in sports performance
- Increased energy
- Better workout recovery
- Improvement of mental health
- Boosting confidence
Given all these benefits, it’s not surprising that practices such as cold bathing have been common at least as far back as Roman times, and is now popular with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Anthony Robbins.
Hof has certainly benefited from his Method, which of course includes cold therapy. So far, a few of his achievements from following it include:
- Running a half marathon above the Arctic Circle, barefoot only wearing shorts
- Swimming underneath ice for 66 meters
- Hanging by one finger at an altitude of 2,000 meters
- Climbing the highest mountains in the world while wearing shorts
- Running a full marathon in the Namib Desert without drinking a drop of water
It’s a remarkable list and it would seem to most people that only a kind of ‘superman’ could accomplish such feats. But the truth is, almost all of us have more capabilities than we give our minds and bodies credit for.
How My Life Changed
I first heard about Wim Hof when he was interviewed by Russell Brand on his Under the Skin podcast, and was fascinated.
I started to do his breathing exercises (one of which you can find at the end of this article). They don’t take long – maybe around 10 minutes a day – but they just do something to you. They make you feel more energised and clear headed, and as an asthmatic, I increased my lung capacity notably. Specifically, I went from being able to hold my breath for around 50 seconds, to a minute and a half, with practice.
I also started taking cold showers. Don’t get me wrong – not cold, cold showers, but basically turning the hot tap off at the end of a regular shower. Initially, I could stand there for oh, maybe 10 seconds. But I’ve worked my way up to 30 seconds and believe me, it’s a game changer. Rather than feeling a bit drowsy after bathing, I now feel ultra-energised. And did I mention I haven’t been sick in months?
When I had the chance to interview Wim about his method, I jumped at the chance to ask him about how all of us can unleash our full potential.
Our Exclusive Interview With Wim On The Wim Hof Method & More
You’ve run a marathon in the Namib desert with no hydration. What did that teach you about conventional wisdom about ‘8 glasses a day’ and our bodies’ need for hydration?
Water cleanses through a balance in fluids when the cell mechanisms are able to expel what needs to go. Water enters the cell without the need to be processed. Blood is fluid, so is water. It is the carrier of all our nutrition and oxygen. Without water, we soon go into survival mode or dry fasting, which is a new phenomena. When that happens, a process called autophagy kicks in, which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells. You cannot dry fast too much. Once or twice a week is enough to be effective.
You’ve also run a marathon above the Arctic circle, in shorts and barefoot. Tell us a bit about that experience?
It was a very profound experience and showed me just how strong our feet are. I did this without prior training, and worked really only on setting the right intention, so it really enlightened me once again to the power of the mind and what can happen when we just focus on what we want.
For those of our readers who don’t know, what’s the science behind how cold heals our bodies?
Gradual cold exposure is like vascular fitness. Knowing that cardiovascular diseases kill millions of people every year, we can tackle this problem by taking cold showers. Our energy levels increase, because vascular fitness training increases blood flow, and our heart rate goes down by twenty to thirty beats a minute, twenty four hours a day thereby reducing our stress levels.
When do you think we lost our ability to heal our own bodies?
Too much comfort has had a huge impact on our stimulation levels and has resulted in our deeper physiology becoming dormant. Cold showers and deeper breathing wakes us up.
What about those who live in tropical or warm climates. How can they induce self-healing?
The breathing exercises we teach have proven themselves to go as deep as to connect the mind and body back into our conscious will. It is accessible and effective for anybody. Feeling is understanding.
What’s the single most effective thing you think people can do to improve their health?
To become conscious of the fact that you are capable of awakening deeper physiological and mental control within days. I would encourage your readers to follow the scientifically endorsed techniques that we share in our free app so they can feel the benefits for themselves!
For more information about Wim and the Wim Hof method please visit https://wimhofmethod.