With the lockdown travel restrictions here in Scotland, I'm constantly seeing requests on my social media feed for lodges up north with hot tubs, seeing insta photos of women taking 'empowering' plunges at Portobello beach and personally I'm missing both the jacuzzi and sea swimming of our overseas autumn retreat.
BUT which is best for us? Well, ultimately it depends what you are looking to achieve and both have great benefits. Research highlights the benefits of hot water to include; healing as the immersion in hot water increase blood circulation and more blood flow means more nutrients are available to help cells regenerate and speed the healing process; muscle pain relief - again the increase in blood circulation helps remove pain causing chemicals that build up in the tissues; joint pain relief as the water buffers the effects of gravity on injured joints; lower blood pressure; healthier heart as the heart works harder and more efficiently (similar to exercise) and stress relief as a relaxing way to unwind, reduce anxiety and cope with life pressures and ultimately improve mental health.
Then there's cold water benefits: Immune system boost as white blood cell count increases as the immune system is invigorated; weight loss as the body has to work twice as hard to keep warm therefore burns more calories; headache relief, improved circulation as the blood starts pumping immediately and gives a circulation boost in the long run; mindfulness and connectivity to nature giving a mental heath boost. New research just announced by Cambridge University suggests it may also protect the brain from degenerative diseases like dementia.
So really both can massively assist our mental and physical health with a boost to our immune system and give a sense of freedom / relaxation.
Then there's hot and cold on a daily basis for injury or long term conditions like arthritis treatment - do I want hot or cold - I want cold for acute injuries or pain, swelling & inflammation and heat for muscle pain and stiffness.
I like nothing better than a quick hot bath before I go for a long run (I know it seems weird to do before getting all sweaty) but it eases the muscles and gets the circulation going on cold mornings and then a cooler one on return to prevent DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) - if I could face it I'd pop ice in first but it's a long time since my last dip in freezing cold water and I can't say it's something that I want to do again in a hurry - I kept repeating the mantra if I can give birth I can do this as I strode - or waddled into icy Cornish waters. I will make more of an effort on the cold in light of this latest research but I'm definitely a Vitamin D sun seeker (also beneficial in the fight against dementia) and hot tubber - even better if there's a glass of fizz in hand ....