How do you picture the morning routine of a successful CEO, Athlete, or Entrepreneur? Probably an early #5amclub wake up, journaling, and meditation. Followed by exercise and a cold shower before the rest of the population is even awake.
The cold shower element may be the least appealing to our warm-acclimatised selves. Yet, it’s one that many of the world’s most successful people have in common. There’s a tonne of science to back up why so many CEOs and celebrities swear by their cold water habit.
Who’s using it?
Tony Robbins, serial entrepreneur and motivational speaker, starts his day with a 14-degree plunge. Tim Ferriss, Author of the best-selling ‘Four Hour Work Week’ cycles through ice baths and his sauna to get the benefits of contrast therapy. Lady Gaga has a ten-minute ice bath as part of her pre-show and post-show routine. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson tweeted that he takes a cold shower each morning.
More high-achieving ice bath fans include Joe Wicks MBE to Madonna, Russell Brand, Professor Green, Lizzo, Harry Styles, World Triathlon Champion Lucy Charles Barclay, and Pete Doherty.
Here are the traits of high-achievers that deliberate cold exposure benefits:
Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman in the Huberman Lab podcast said deliberate cold exposure builds resilience, grittiness and the ability to move through challenge. Getting into an ice bath is challenging. So is the hard work to achieve great things. Building resilience in one area bleeds into others. We find ourselves doing more of the hard stuff because we’ve proven to ourselves that we're more than capable.
Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey says a cold shower is better than coffee in the morning. The same chemicals released in medications for ADHD - Norepinephrine and Dopamine - are stimulated with cold therapy. These help us focus and improve memory. Using breathwork with the cold trains our mind to concentrate without distraction.
3. Positive Mood:
It’s harder to be successful when you’re feeling low and unproductive. Brass Monkey was born from founder Dan’s search for something to help improve his mental health. His success with cold exposure led him to build the ice bath he wish existed! Deliberate cold exposure raises your dopamine levels by 250%, sustained for hours afterwards.
4. Peak physical performance:
James Davies is a best-selling author and high-performance coach. His clients include David Beckham, Kylie Minogue and Mo Fara. James says using his ice bath enhances recovery by reducing inflammation. A cold therapy study by Kox et al in 2014 with Wim Hof showed anti-inflammatory markers increased by 200% and pro-inflammatory markers reduced by 50%.
5. Improved immune system:
You're 29% less likely to call in sick if you take a cold rather than a hot shower in the morning according to the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE.
A study found increases in T cells in participants who did 6 weeks of repeated cold immersion. You can’t achieve greatness from your sick bed!
The benefits of the cold on high achievement are not only backed by science, there’s endless anecdotal evidence, too.
You can build the attributes of successful people with consistent deliberate cold exposure. You'll wish you started sooner.