In a recent episode of Limitless With Chris Hemsworth, a six-part National Geographic documentary streaming on Disney+, the Thor actor swims 250 yards across an icy Nordic fjord without a wetsuit. The average temperature of an icy fjord hovers around 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit and can be much colder.
"Cold water triggers some extremely powerful survival mechanisms," he says during the episode. "Controlling the body's response to cold could have huge health benefits down the line."
The series, which explores scientific insights into how we can all unlock our body’s superpowers to fight illness, perform better and even reverse the aging process, features Hemsworth as a sort of test subject, taking on extreme challenges that also included walking the edge of a 900-foot skyscraper and fasting for four days. According to Hemsworth, 39, the icy swim was the toughest challenge he endured.
"Halfway through, my brain felt like it was being stabbed by a thousand knives," he told Men's Journal.
The Benefits of Cold Therapy
While swimming across an icy fjord without supervision could be dangerous, research has suggested that exposure to smaller doses of cold therapy could prove beneficial for a number of reasons. A 2014 study found that routine exposure to cold water therapy could be widely used to improve immunity and for the management of pain, as well as boost metabolism and improve energy and mood.
It’s a practice that Hemsworth is familiar with. On the set of “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Hemsworth and co-stars endured ice bath challenges. And he additionally uses ice baths as part of his training routine.
And by the end of the episode featuring his icy swim, Hemsworth is starting to tinker with cold showers instead of icy swims, which is tough, even for a superhero.
Cryotherapy is Cold Therapy
You don’t need to swim across an icy fjord though. There is another way, and it might even be better for you: Whole Body Cryotherapy. In comparison to cold water immersion, Cryotherapy uses very dry, cold air for a much shorter time so subjects do not report much discomfort at all.
Have you ever tried getting into a really cold body of water? No matter how long you take to adjust, it’s still shocking to the system, and takes some commitment. And regardless of what body of water you’re entering, chances are it’s not going to be as controlled (or cold) as Whole Body Cryotherapy. But that’s not all.
Whole Body Cryotherapy at Restore exposes the entire body (including your head) to sub-zero temperatures inside of a chamber for up to 3 minutes. As the body is exposed to these freezing temperatures, it enacts a natural fight or flight response that constricts blood vessels to restrict blood away from extremities. This redirection causes your body to move blood toward the core, protecting your organs. During this process, the body increases its levels of oxygen and certain proteins that can decrease swelling. When you exit the Cryotherapy chamber and return to normal room temperature, this oxygen-rich blood moves back through the body. This service is one of many ways that Restore utilizes controlled, natural stressors to increase your body’s resilience and thereby shape human health.
You’re not running to find shelter from an icy fjord or trying to climb out of an ice bucket while shivering. It’s controlled, it’s quick, and you don’t need to be a superhero to get it done.
Limitless With Chris Hemsworth is streaming on Disney+.
Curious about Cryotherapy at Restore? We can help get you started.
*Information contained herein regarding any Restore services does not constitute or imply its endorsement or recommendation by the subject.