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Excessive amount of body fat can put you at higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer. If you're struggling to get rid of that 'bad' body fat, try taking a dip in cold water.
A major scientific review, which has been published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Circumpolar Health, suggested that taking a dip in cold water may help reduce 'bad' body fat in men as well as cut the risk of associated disorders like diabetes.
Based on the analyses of 104 studies, the authors believe that cold water swimming may have also beneficial effects on 'good' fat, helping burn more calories and thus protect against obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
The review suggested a positive effect of cold-water swimming on brown adipose tissue (BAT), a type of 'good' body fat that helps maintain body temperature by burning calories. 'Bad' white fat, on the other hand, stores energy.
As suggested by the authors, which include researchers from UiT The Arctic University of Norway and the University Hospital of North Norway, exposure to cold water appears to increase the production of adiponectin protein, which helps protect against insulin resistance, diabetes and other diseases.
The review also found swimming in cold water during the winter associated with increased insulin sensitivity and decreased insulin concentrations.
Although cold-water bathing is increasingly becoming popular as a hobby, its health benefits remain unclear. While an increasing number of studies indicate that cold-water immersion may have some beneficial health effects, most of these studies involved small numbers of participants or were done on one gender. Hence, it is difficult to assess if cold-water bathing is actually beneficial or not for health, stated the review authors.
The authors stressed the need for further conclusive studies to validate the health benefits claimed to be associated with regular exposure to cold water.
Advocates of regular cold-water immersion claim that this activity can promote weight loss, improve mental health, increase libido, besides numerous others health benefits.
Swimming in cold water during the winter is one of the many forms of cold-water immersion that is growing popularity worldwide. However, the experts cautioned against the health risks associated with taking a dip in icy water such as hypothermia (a condition that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, leading to a dangerous drop in body temperature), as well as heart and lung issues related to the shock from very cold temperatures.
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