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Cold showering your way toward winter toughness

Blog by: Bill Prater , Colorado 10/30/2019
Time magazine this week has an intriguing article on ways to acclimate your body to the arrival of cold weather. Back in the 1960s, Time reporter Markham Heim says, Army researchers found that naked men who spent eight hours a day in a 50 degree chamber became habituated to the cold. They had mostly stopped shivering after two weeks. (It didn't say what happens to naked women, but presumably it works for them, too.)

Another study in 2014 persuaded another group of healthy men to spend up to three hours a day sitting in baths filled with 57 degree water. At the beginning of a 20-day study, they did a lot of shivering and complaining, like  Dan Barker when the Loveland Fishing Club persuaded him to try ice fishing. But by Day 20, the men's shivering had pretty much stopped. While their metabolisms and heart rates still sped up in response to the cold water, their blood vessels no longer constricted and their skin temperature didn't drop the way it had at first. Apparently their bodies got used to the chill.

So you too can stop whining about a little Colorado cold.  Apparently, the typical response to this week's cold - raising temperatures around home or work, and eating a lot more - prevented our bodies from becoming more cold resistant and made us more likely to watch more fishing shows on TV. So, starting today or tomorrow, turn your thermostats down by a few degrees and peel off a few layers of clothing. And start watching TV while naked. And here's the best trick of all:  cold showers!

Basically, anything that causes you to shiver will help your body acclimate to winter temperatures.  Army researcher John Castellani suggests starting with a quick, cold shower - say 15 seconds - and adding 10 seconds to that every day. You can turn up the water temps once you've endured the icy water. If you bring yourself to shiver a few times a day, after just one week you'll begin feeling more comfortable in colder temperatures.

So that's it! The club didn't need to scrub this week's North Park trout trip after all; maybe we could have just slept in the truck until Walden's minus 7 degree temperatures warmed toward more positive numbers.  

I, for one, can't wait for motivated anglers to try this out and report back.
Blog content © Bill Prater
Blog Comments
anglerwannabe, CO   10/30/2019 6:33:36 PM
Tell ya what Bill. I'll bring the gopro over and we'll record you doing the cold showering and other cold training. Then we'll have a "how to" video to go along with this blog. lol
Ajax5240, CO   10/30/2019 9:16:35 PM
Or... just buy a bottle of whiskey. Thatíll warm you back up too..
Matt, CO   10/31/2019 9:04:48 AM
You first Bill! Looking forward to the report. I myself am forcing myself out to walk the dog with hopes of getting my ice fishing skin back.
Bill Prater (fishthumpre), CO   10/31/2019 5:31:50 PM
So I got cabin fever today and wet a line this morning at Rivers Edge and Boyd Lake. Was 27 degrees by 11 a.m., a good test for my winter hardiness. Froze my butt off, and fooled one small, gullible rainbow...
Santiago84, CO   11/1/2019 9:16:06 AM
There is a great book about this idea called "What Doesn't Kill Us." by Scott Carney. At one point the author was based out of Boulder. Its a fascinating read.
MOJO, CO   11/8/2019 7:17:05 AM
I find that a very hot sauna, followed by a cold plunge, is much more tolerable, and achieves the same effect! Especially if some cold beers are consumed...