What are the benefits of cold exposure?


Cold exposure has a range of physiological and psychological benefits, including:

  1. Increasing metabolism and brown fat stores, which help maintain warmth and reduce inflammation.
  2. Robustly increasing baseline levels of dopamine by as much as 2.5 times, enhancing mood and alertness.
  3. Serving as a tool for building self-discipline and resilience over time.
  4. Potentially assisting in addiction recovery by providing a healthier alternative for dopamine release, as opposed to substances like cocaine which cause sharper and more harmful fluctuations in dopamine levels.
  5. Improving mental resilience by serving as a stressor that can be modulated to build mental toughness.
  6. Converting white fat cells to thermogenic beige or brown fat cells, which aid in staying lean.
  7. Reducing inflammation post-exercise and generally.
  8. Regulating cortisol and hormone production, especially when practiced earlier in the day, which can indirectly benefit fertility in both males and females by timing cortisol release.
  9. Inducing a condition in the brain and body known as eustress, a positive form of stress that can increase resilience without the negative health outcomes associated with distress.

It should be noted that cold exposure for stress inoculation might involve suppressing the shiver response to resist the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. On the other hand, if using cold exposure for fat loss and thermogenesis, engaging in shivering can activate brown fat cells that increase metabolism and promote fat burning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.

Benefits of Cold Exposure

Andrew discusses the numerous benefits of cold exposure, including increases in metabolism, brown fat stores, and dopamine levels. He also explains how dopamine affects our perception of time and offers tips for managing discomfort during cold exposure.

Huberman Lab

Time Perception & Entrainment by Dopamine, Serotonin & Hormones | Huberman Lab Podcast #46