Editor's note: Seek medical advice before trying this activity.
It's been said that ending your showers with cold water is good for your health, improving circulation and decreasing pain and inflammation. Jake Johnson, who recently moved to Sault Ste. Marie from Toronto, has taken the idea one step further.
Johnson goes for a swim in the ice-cold water at Gros Cap a few times per week during the winter before he starts his days. This activity is also known as a polar dip.
“I started doing this (polar dip) in January of last year in Toronto at Cherry Beach,” Johnson said. “I got the inspiration from a friend of mine who had been doing it every single morning for a hundred days straight. He was talking about all the benefits that he’s been seeing by going in the cold water. So I thought I would try it.”
“It’s obviously hard, it’s not easy to go in, but that’s part of what’s good about it. Jumping in there and knowing it’s going to be tough and difficult brings a lot of rewards afterwards. You achieve something that you knew was going to be tough to do,” said the 34-year-old.
Before starting this routine, Johnson said his mental health was deteriorating and his energy levels were low. “I was having difficulty getting up and working in the morning, that’s why I decided to give this a try.”
“Every time I go I know it’s not going to be easy or super enjoyable, but when you get out, you have a feeling of accomplishment that carries into your everyday tasks. Other challenges in life become a little bit easier,” he said.
Some of the physical health benefits that Johnson has experienced include reduced joint pain, flexibility, and quicker recovery after exercising. The polar dip is also known to increase circulation, build up your immune system, and decrease seasonal depression.
“It releases endorphins and dopamine. You feel a positive energy when you get out that lasts throughout the day,” he said.
When Johnson first started doing these cold plunges, he could only stay in for about a minute. Now he stays in the freezing water for about 10 minutes at a time.
“It definitely wakes you up first thing in the morning,” he said.
“If you’re looking for something to do that can help give you a more positive outlook on life, I would recommend trying it out,” he said.