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The Wim Hof method has recently exploded in popularity and is beng praised as the secret to health and longevity.
But is it really a secret weapon for lifestyle improvement or yet another wellness fad?
While more research is still needed, the ideology behind the Wim Hof method is, in fact, supported by science.
Before we dive into the specifics of the proven benefits, you might be asking yourself, “what exactly is the Wim Hof method?”
The Wim Hof method combines breathwork techniques, cold therapy, and determination to routinely take mental and physical control over your body.
This technique is said to improve immunity, help you sleep better, decrease stress levels, and improve focus and concentration.
The technique is named after its creator, a Dutch athlete who is commonly known online as “The Iceman.”
Hof discovered the technique after a period of depression that came after losing his wife. He turned to extreme temperatures in the cold to help gain his energy back.
By combining cold exposure with breathwork, he was able to conquer 21 Guinness World Records, run a half marathon above the Arctic Circle with no shoes on, and more.
His techniques showcase surprising feats that the human body is capable of achieving.
He offers a Wim Hof workshop that teaches students how to put the Wim Hof technique into daily practice, starting with controlled deep breathing.
Once students of the Wim Hof workshop master deep breathing, cold therapy is added. This includes cold exposure over several minutes.
The idea of this cold therapy is to increase oxygen levels in the blood to help with mood enhancement, mental clarity, and even pain management.
In modern medicine, this is commonly called “cryotherapy.”
When you think of cryotherapy in a medical setting, you may think of a doctor using extremely cold temperatures to freeze off cancerous cells.
However, research supports that exposure to cold temperatures can reduce inflammation in the body, soothe aching muscles, and reduce swelling.
Athletes are known to use cold therapy or ice baths to bounce back after extreme exertion.
However, Wim Hof himself has played a huge role in scientific research supporting the benefits of cryotherapy and cold exposure.
In 2011, a Radboud University study showed that by using the Wim Hof method, Hof was able to influence his nervous system.
Prior to this study, many researchers thought that influencing your own nervous system was nearly impossible.
This groundbreaking study lead to an increased interest in the benefits of breathwork, cold therapy, and a combination of the two methods used together.
In recent years, research put the Wim Hof method to the test even further, measuring its effect on the immune system.
Participants were exposed to a pathogen. Some were then asked to follow the Wim Hof method.
Results found that those who followed the Wim Hof method had a heightened immune response compared to participants who did not follow the method.
Moreover, Wim himself has higher levels of brown adipose than normal for a man his age, a type of body fat that is activated during cold exposure.
This type of fat helps to maintain your body temperature and contains more mitochondria than white fat.
@somnifix Replying to @alexandersaparata Have you heard of #wimhoff or #wimhoffbreathing 😮💨🥶 #healthhack #didyouknow #learnontiktok ♬ RAVE - Dxrk ダーク
Now that we’ve covered the science behind using cold therapy to improve your health, we can focus our attention on the proven benefits of breathwork.
Humans have centered many wellness practices around breathwork for centuries.
Ancient Eastern practices like meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi all require breathwork to lower anxiety and elevate health.
Controlled, diaphragmatic breathing is known to activate the lungs more deeply, helping you use all of the breathing muscles to get as much air into the lungs as quickly as possible.
In 2016, researchers found that breathwork is tied to our emotional state.
Fast-paced breathing causes our stress responses to activate, while slow, steady breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Moreover, controlled breathing is proven to cause a higher resting metabolic rate, meaning that breathwork can boost our metabolism.
Proper breathwork can even improve memory, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
In this study, slow-paced nasal breathing improved cognitive function and electrical activity in the brain, helping participants remember images they were shown at the beginning of the research.
Breathing deeply allows for the blood to become less acidic, helping increase adrenaline in the body.
As a result, pain decreases, oxygen uptake rises, and the body operates more efficiently.
Just any breathing won’t do, though. Nasal breathing is thought to be more beneficial when compared to mouth breathing.
Our noses filter out allergens and pathogens, produce nitric oxide, and humidify our breath. Nasal breathing further supports increased immunity, while mouth breathing lowers it.
Mouth breathing doesn’t offer the same filter and dries out the mouth, increasing the risk of inflammation and even cavities.
So how can you reap the benefits of the Wim Hof method? The Wim Hof workshop offers virtual and in-person techniques to put the method into practice.
Wim Hof says that he developed his method by going out in nature and connecting his brain with his physiology.
He recommends getting used to cold water first by blasting yourself with a cold rinse at the end of your shower. Over time, your tolerance to the cold water should build.
At first, you may only be able to last for a few seconds. Over time, this amount should increase to well over a minute.
Relaxation is also important when it comes to adding breathwork to the mix. You should always practice breathwork in a safe environment, lying or sitting down.
In most Wim Hof workshops, Hof will start off with a series of deep breathing exercises to lower carbon dioxide in the blood, decreasing its acidity.
Consistency is key when it comes to this practice. If you want to follow along with a Wim Hof workshop, multiple resources are available.
You can travel to Wim himself or join him in a live stream that puts his method into practice.
Other instructors who have mastered the method are also available to demonstrate the right Wim Hof activity for your experience level.
If you just want to dip your toe in the (cold) water of a Wim Hof workshop, so to speak, a free mini class is also available online that showcases:
Hof also offers an official mobile app that allows you to tackle a Wim Hof workshop wherever you go.
If you want to take the awareness of your breath to the next level, you should pay attention to how you breathe even while you’re asleep.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “That’s crazy. How am I supposed to practice breathwork if I’m asleep?
That’s where SomniFix steps in!
Any Wim Hof workshop you participate in focuses on the importance of proper breathwork.
Habitual mouth breathing causes us to over breathe, irritating our immune system and placing the body in fight or flight.
Mouth breathing as you sleep is notorious for causing snoring, fragmented sleep, and dry mouth.
Taping your mouth shut at night, however, prevents these issues, keeping your breath (and health) in check overnight.
SomniFix Mouth Strips are free of irritating materials like latex and gluten, meaning they’re kind to even the most sensitive skin.
Our Strips also offer a gel-like fit that’s so comfortable you’ll forget you’re wearing mouth tape at all.
As the Wim Hof method becomes part of your lifestyle for improved wellness, mouth taping should, too!
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