A Cold Plunge a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Spa retailers share benefits of cold tubs

Cold tubs have grown in popularity in recent years due to their purported health benefits. Unlike the hot tub, cold tubs don’t have therapeutic jet massages and aren’t meant to be lounged in for hours on end with friends. These tubs are much smaller — most are just single-person units — and as the name suggests, are filled with icy cold water.

Many spa retailers have started carrying cold tubs because of the increased demand as well as their effects on physical performance and mental health.

Superior Wellness is a hot tub manufacturer based in the United Kingdom with a focus on improving customers’ well-being; when cold tubs grew in popularity, Superior Wellness jumped at the chance to supply them.

“Our purpose is to improve wellness, and this product will do just that,” says Gareth Ward, sales director at Superior Wellness.

One of the reasons cold tubs have grown in popularity is the increasing amount of research showing how they can be used as a form of recovery for athletes and everyday gym-goers.

In addition, “cold tubs have a number of health benefits, both physically and mentally,” Ward says. “People are [becoming] more willing to invest time and money into making themselves feel better.”

Norm Coburn, president of New England Spas, has noticed the investment customers are putting into wellness, and the company is actively looking into selling cold tubs or cold plunge pools. “[Cold tubs have] quite a bit of endorsement from athletes in terms of how it can help with recovery,” Coburn says. 

Some of the physical benefits provided by the 45-degree Fahrenheit water include reduced inflammation, quicker injury recovery time, easing of muscle soreness and increased energy.

“The primary purpose of a cold tub is to reduce inflammation and soreness in muscles by causing the body to go into a state of vasoconstriction, narrowing the blood vessels and improving circulation,” Ward says. 

Ward notes this is contrasted by the primary purpose of a hot tub: providing stress relief and relaxation through vasodilation, which is the widening of blood vessels resulting in lowered blood pressure. 

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Beyond recovery benefits, cold tub usage is reported to boost immune systems, which is something customers are particularly curious about in a post-pandemic world, Coburn says.

“There’s less of an autoimmune response in your body if you have better blood flow and lower inflammation,” says Audrey Markiton with Passion Spas

Physical benefits aside, cold tubs can also benefit mental health. 

Sitting in cold water can help reduce stress levels and anxiety while providing a sense of relaxation and clarity.”

Gareth Ward, Superior Wellness

“Sitting in cold water can help reduce stress levels and anxiety while providing a sense of relaxation and clarity,” Ward says. “Cold tubs are a great way to relax and unwind after a long day of activity.”

But when it comes to cold tubs, more isn’t necessarily better. Instead, they’re intended to be used in 10- to 15-minute sessions.

Although it doesn’t sound like much time, it takes a while for your body to build a tolerance to the cold, Markiton explains. Most people will stay in the tub for less than two minutes before exiting and preparing for another dip. 

The more regularly you use the tub, the better your tolerance will become. Taking a dip in the cold tub even just once a day can benefit the body, Markiton shares. 

“Intriguing” is how Coburn describes the cold tub trend. “The hot and the cold contrast just clicks for me,” he says. “It would be the kind of thing that would fit in very nicely with our product lines, so we’re going to give it a whirl.”