Benefits of Ice Dipping

I myself enjoy temperature cycling, going from hot to cold a few times, as the Scandinavians do. There is a good feeling with shocking the circulatory system this way. One individual related a story from a health club instructor who said that those who have lost weight can reduce the effect of sag, or wrinkles by repeated temperature changes; this is supposed to exercise shallow subcutaneous muscles and thus firm the skin. To others this is a great way to actively participate in a sport/stunt rather than be merely another spectator, especially on New Year's Day.


Ice swimming has had a recent surge of popularity among Finns. There have been some medical studies done and apparently the shock "kickstarts" your adrenal system and gives you a natural endorphine high. In addition, frequent swimmers increase their peripheral circulation and grow metabolically active "brown fat" 
as opposed to the regular "white fat". The Suomen Latu association (an amateur winter sport association) coordinates the ice swimming and had links to studies, only in Finnish, unfortunately. The endorphine high is similar what you get from vigorous exercise or acupuncture and other old-fashioned natural treatments. Ice swimming has been helpful for people with cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis and eczema. The Finnish eczema newsgroup people rave about how it totally stops the itch. For medical benefits, people go several times a week, some even daily. Anecdotally, people also claim it gives your skin a healthy glow and makes you shed wrinkles. People also claim that if you go regularly, you don't tend to get the flu or other contagious diseases.

Kira Pelletier, Feb. 20, 2002, Minnesota