Those practicing the Wim Hof Method will benefit primarily from the progressive exposure to cold. The regular cold showers the method advocates will:
• up regulate the immune system
• improve cardiovascular health and
• help regulate the circadian rhythm if practiced at the same time every day.
While these 3 benefits can have a knock on a positive effect on other functions in the body, including: mood, metabolism, energy levels, cold exposure is still a stress for the body and thus should be practiced progressively and always reflecting one’s health status at the time.
The Wim Hof Breathing (WH Breathing) can also benefit those who struggle to switch off their brain, or experience low levels of energy and need an adrenaline boost.
In this article I will be answering some popular question on what one can expect from WHM. If you have a question which is not answered here, drop me a message through the contact page.
Can the WHM help with Anxiety or Depression?
While breathwork can provide relief for those with high stress, the Wim Hof Breathing will be safe and beneficial only for mild forms of anxiety and otherwise healthy individuals. Those suffering with depression on the other hand are more likely to benefit from the breathing due to the increase of adrenaline, shown to last for 2 hours.
Individuals with neurological conditions, including depression and anxiety are likely to benefit from cold exposure through its effects on the cardiovascular system, hormonal and metabolic function. Cold exposure will benefit other forms of mental health and when practiced progressively it will result to higher levels of energy and a more positive outlook on life.
Cold exposure and the Wim Hof breathing have very different effects on our body’s biochemistry. As a result while someone may benefit from one may not from the other.
How long does it take to see results?
Those practicing the WH Breathing if they are going to experience any positive results, are likely to notice them instantly. The change in the blood gases will happen after the first round and will build up over consecutive ones.
The cold exposure will have an effect on the long run on the cardiovascular, metabolic and hormonal system. While one will get a boost of increased energy (from the adrenaline) straight after the physiological adaptations will take months – years to materialise.
Is it suitable for beginners?
The WH Breathing is accessible to beginners. It requires practitioners to breathe heavy on the first part and hold their breath to the max of their ability in the second. Very shallow breathers, usually elder or those with severe asthma, may still not be able to perform the exercise in which case improving their lung capacity first will be appropriate.
Whether it is suitable or not depends on one’s goals. Due to the exaggerated hype around the benefits it is worth being clear on what you expect from the WH Breathing.
You don’t need any skill or prerequisites to practice cold exposure either. Those with poor circulation, who are likely to benefit from it the most, are the ones that will struggle a lot initially. Cold exposure requires extra caution for those with cardiovascular complications, type 1 diabetes and pregnant women.
Are there any risks associated with the Wim Hof Method?
There are risks associated with it so it’s best to build up your practice gradually and stop in the presence of any adverse symptoms.
Can it be combined with other forms of exercise or training?
The WHM can definitely be combined with exercise. This is especially true for the cold exposure which can serve as a pre-training booster. The WH Breathing has less of a synergistic effect with exercise.