Joe Wicks and Wim Hof want everyone to try the cold shower challenge

In a YouTube vlog, Joe Wicks and the "iceman", Wim Hof, show off the benefits of cold water

Joe Wicks wants us to try cold showers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, has been inspiring the UK in lockdown by acting as "the nation's PE teacher", helping kids and adults alike stay active at home with the best exercises for weight loss. However, he's now exploring a more esoteric region of health and fitness: cryotherapy.  

In a new YouTube post, Joe interviews Wim Hof, better known as "the iceman". Hof is famous for running up part of Mt Everest in just shoes and a pair of shorts, and taking long, immersive ice baths. He claims to have transformed his body and mind with the power of cold, allowing his body to repel disease, keep off excess weight and stay healthy. 

There are some scientific bonuses to frequent exposure to cold water, and enough purported benefits to the practice are doing the rounds that we tried the cold shower challenge for a week and began to see some of them ourselves. 

In the video below, Joe tries some of Wim Hof's techniques, lowering himself into ice and practicing meditative breathing for over three minutes.

After the bath is over, Joe says: "I've never felt so unbelievably alive. I hope this pushes you to try your first cold showers. It's amazing, it has amazing health benefits." 

From learning how to meditate to trying the best diffuser for essential oils, there's plenty of easy-to-do wellness trends out there – but this is one health practice that takes a bit of nerve. 

As mentioned above, there are clear benefits, as found by science. One study, published by researchers from the Netherlands, looks at the effect of cold showering on health and work. Participants recorded a burst of energy likely caused by an adrenaline rush after getting out of the cold shower, and were found to be 28% less likely to call in sick for work. 

Another study, published by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, found cold showers could boost endorphins, the feel-good chemical in our brains responsible for the "runner's high" we get when we exercise. Tests have also shown an increased immune and anti-inflammatory response, correlated with Hof's practice of meditation and cold hydrotherapy.