Chris Hemsworth swam in freezing Arctic waters to boost his longevity— here’s how to get similar benefits at home

Actor Chris Hemsworth swims in the freezing waters of Norway

Disney+/Craig Parry's National Geographic

  • Chris Hemsworth swims in icy arctic waters in pursuit of fitness for his new ‘Infinite' collection.

  • Evidence suggests that a daily 30-second cold shower can provide the benefits of cold therapy.

  • Regular exercise may be as good for your overall health as exposure to icy conditions.

Chris Hemsworth surfed and swam in Arctic waters to test the boundaries of human resilience, which he said was one of the toughest experiences of his career.

The “Thor” actor takes on the challenge of swimming 250 yards in icy Nordic fjords without a wetsuit in his quest for longer, healthier life.

To accomplish this feat, he teamed up with sports scientist and extreme athlete Ross Edgley, who Hemsworth describes as “one of the healthiest humans on Earth”, setting a swimming world record.

According to Edgley, the shock of immersing yourself in ice water has clear benefits for longevity and health.

“Cold water triggers some extremely powerful survival mechanics,” he says in the episode. “Controlling the body's response to cold could have huge health benefits.”

While Hemsworth took on other extreme challenges for the series, including a SEAL-style “drowning-proof” test, he said the Arctic swim was the hardest.

“Halfway through, my brain felt like I was stabbed with a thousand knives,” he told Men's Magazine.

Swimming in cold water is dangerous, especially if you don't have professional safety personnel, as you could be at risk of hypothermia and death.

But you don't have to do arctic diving to get the benefits of cold therapy. Research shows that regular exposure to cold in smaller, safer doses can boost metabolism, improve energy and mood, and protect the body from some of the side effects of aging. If you hate colds, you can get similar results with regular exercise.

Quick cold shower may help regulate immune system to prevent disease

Hemsworth may not be in a rush to jump into the frozen sea again, but by the end of the episode, he's changed his routine to include more cold treatments, like making the last 30 seconds of the shower cold.

The routine is based on a 2016 trial that found that participants who completed showers with cold water had fewer sick days at work.

According to research, between 30 seconds and 3 minutes at around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit may be enough to see the benefits — no Arctic hike required.

Ice baths can soothe muscles, but avoid them immediately after a workout to maximize gains

Hemsworth also swears by ice baths to help relieve sore muscles, his longtime friend and trainer Luke Zocchi previously told Insider.

Evidence for the benefits is mixed — ice can relieve pain and fatigue, but research suggests it may not actually improve recovery.

Premature cooling can actually slow down your muscle growth because it prevents your muscles from recovering properly from the wear and tear of exercise, Zocchi says.

Newer research also suggests that, contrary to previous theories, ice may not help with injuries and muscle soreness.

Regular exercise can provide similar benefits without freezing

According to the Cleveland Clinic, if you hate a cold, you don't have to put up with it for your health because other habits like vigorous exercise have similar benefits.

Evidence suggests that exercise can help improve blood flow, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and promote mental health.

To relieve muscle soreness and increase gains without freezing, try active recovery in the form of low-impact exercises like walking or cycling, personal trainers previously told Insider.

Read the original article on Insider

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