The phenomenon of body hardening: Eva Samková and Nela Boudová fell for it too. What do doctors say about it?
The coronavirus has definitely affected a lot of things, closure of sports venues being one of them. The Czechs have therefore found another activity in which they can strengthen the body and spirit - hardening. Suddenly, social networks are flooded with photos of people swimming in frozen water. A large number of celebrities have also succumbed to this trend. Snowboarder Eva Samková, presenter Eva Decastelo and actress Nela Boudová all flashed their bodies in bikinis this winter.
The pioneer is the Dutchman Wim Hof
Hardening got into public consciousness mainly thanks to the Dutchman Wim Hof, also nicknamed Iceman. This man is engaged in extreme sports and is known for his resistance to extreme cold. He is the inventor of the so-called Wim Hof method, which consists mainly of breathing exercises and hardening with ice water, which should lead to an overall improvement in immunity.
"We are estranged from nature. But cold can bring us back to what we once lost,”
Wim Hof wrote in his book.
Stress and fat reduction
"Put on warm clothes, or you'll catch a cold." We've heard this warning countless times since we were little, but winter is not our enemy, quite the opposite. Cold can help us combat stress, filter our emotions and improve our physical fitness. In addition, rapid thermoregulation increases the level of the hormone irisin in our organism, which contributes to the breakdown of fats in the body.
“By body hardening, we strengthen the immune system, as well as our whole body and spirit, we gain endurance and the ability to face discomfort, treat inappetence, promote blood circulation, strengthen the cardiovascular system. At the same time, it gives us satisfaction (endorphins - the elixir of happiness), and most importantly, we reduce morbidity from viruses and other common infections,”
said doctor Jiří Šoupal.
The body's reaction to ice-cold water
People who regularly shower or bathe in cold water are far more resilient and rarely catch a cold. If we want hardening to have long-term effects, experts recommend showering with cold water every day. After several years of regular training, hardeners are able to cope with low temperatures without major problems.
"If you want to strengthen your immunity, a balanced diet, exercise and hardening are key,"
says doctor Ladislav Slováček.
Ice water causes a violent reaction in the body and a protective mechanism is activated. Due to the fact that showers are typically short, there is no risk of hypothermia, especially if you wipe and massage your body with a dry towel afterwards. In addition, cold showers stimulate blood circulation and the immune system. Other positive effects of ice water include, to some extent, detoxification.
"Leaching of endorphins during hardening will ensure you start each new day on a positive note,"
says Beata Vaňková, wellness specialist from Spa.cz.
The number of hardeners increased thanks to covid
During a pandemic, there are very few opportunities to enjoy a fun physical activity. People can't go to gyms, swimming pools, or sports venues, which is why hardening has become one of the favourite alternatives. The trend of sharing photos on social networks has not passed even hardeners, and it's a great way to motivate someone else.
What celebrities regularly freeze in ice-cold water?
Popular host Eva Decastelo, who started hardening in October, regularly shares pics of herself swimming in the Vltava on her Instagram. She doesn't forget to inform her followers about the current water temperatures. You can meet her most often in the morning in the Braník district of Prague.
Model Lucie Křížková, who was inspired by the aforementioned method by Wim Hof, is equally brave.
"Once you get used to it, you'll want to do it over and over again. It's an addiction. One you enjoy. One that's beneficial to both your body and mind. I, for example, have been inspired by the Wim Hof method (and next to hardening, I also do his breathing exercises),"
the model stated on her Instagram.
Athletes, such as the Olympic winner Eva Samková, also swear by the strengthening of immunity through body hardening. The 27-year-old snowboarder has been hardening for several years and can take about three minutes in ice-cold water. She recommends hardening to all people not only as prevention against colds:
"It's great, do it too. When the temperature of the Vltava is two degrees, it's awesome."
Actress Nela Boudová is trying to push her boundaries as well. But she makes no secret of the fact that her friend told her that she hardening would help her get rid of cellulitis. The actress decided to test the method herself.
Hardening in 9 easy steps
Start by hardening at home in the shower with lukewarm or cold water and gradually work your way up to freezing water.
Harden your body regularly. If you skip hardening for 14 days, you will have to start again gradually and carefully from the beginning.
After a while, you can try to soak your head (most receptors are located there).
Hardening should ideally be done for 3 to 5 minutes.
What not to forget!
Don't go into it without preparation and in winter. Without training, staying in the water while it's freezing outside isn't advisable.
Another big mistake is jumping into the water, hardeners should enter the water gradually.
It's not a good idea to harden when you're alone - a momentary indisposition can surprise anybody, even experienced hardeners.
When you get out of the water, don't underestimate the importance of warm clothes and movement! Ideally, have a little warm-up jog, do a few squats or any other form of exercise. The main thing is that you enjoy it.