Tim Ferriss on cold exposure, showers, and plunges

Joey Randazzo

Published: Oct 29, 2023

Last Updated:

Tim Ferriss is an absolute legend.

I’ve personally been listening to his podcast for the past 6-7 years relatively religiously.

He’s ahead of the curve in most things, such as investing, business, productivity, psychedelics, and yes, you guessed it, cold exposure.

One of these years, maybe I’ll get to sit down with Tim Ferriss and he’ll laugh at my jokes. Here’s what that moment might look like

Anyway, back to the content at hand.

Quick Summary

Tim Ferriss, although he began talking about cold exposure back in 2010 with his book The 4-Hour Body, is still 

Tim Ferriss's Recommendations on Cold Showers Was First Discussed in His Book The 4-Hour Body Which Was Released in 2010

You thought cold plunges and showers were all the rage and a fad right now?

Nope, Tim Ferriss has been ahead of the curve on just about everything, including cold showers and plunges.

In "The 4-Hour Body," Tim Ferriss introduces the concept of "thermal loading" – the process of deliberately exposing the body to temperature extremes. He advocates for the use of cold showers as a practical and accessible method of thermal loading, which can yield numerous benefits.

Tim Ferriss is still talking about cold exposure in 2023

I was just listening to Andrew Huberman’s podcast (which, by the way, we have a whole article talking about Dr. Andrew Huberman’s thoughts on cold plunges) and saw that he interviewed Tim Ferriss.

And at the 48-minute mark, they start talking about the cold.

Embed Spotify

And me being me, I’m like “LFG!”
Here’s what Tim Ferriss says about deliberate cold exposure.

“Cold exposure, I’ve used as consistently as is practical… For speed of vasodilation, particularly for injury recovery, I think it’s incredibly helpful. For mood regulation, it certainly is the case. And cold water for mood regulation or the treatment of say depression or as a preemptive intervention to avoid or mitigate depression, is old. It used to be prescribed for melancholy.”

What I find super interesting is that Tim Ferriss is open to “anecdata” (anecdotal data as Dr. Andrew Huberman would define it). Basically what this means is that Tim needs enough data to see a trend and pattern and then he’s willing to be the guinea pig.

And what’s so special about cold exposure to me is that Tim Ferriss tries a LOT of stuff. The man is incredible at testing things on himself.

And remember, Tim Ferriss began exploring and experimenting with cold exposure back in 2010 at the latest (and likely well before that since it took him many years to write the book).

So for him to still be regularly doing cold exposure and speaking to its importance 13+ years later, that says something.

When Tim travels, his first thought is “I need to find contrast therapy” (AKA cold!)

Here’s what he says in the interview with Dr. Andrew Huberman (embedded above).

“If I’m traveling, [cold exposure] is a little harder. But, we’re in LA right now and one of the first things I did was find a few options for contrast therapy. One of the first things I did. And by contrast I do not mean infrared sauna and cold plunge. I’d much rather have just hot and cold water.”

That’s how important cold exposure is to Tim Ferriss! Even when traveling, one of the first things he does is find somewhere to engage in it.

Ferriss's recommendation for cold showers is relatively straightforward.

He suggests taking a cold shower for a duration of 5 minutes, beginning with just 20 seconds of cold water exposure and gradually increasing the time over several days or weeks until reaching the full 5-minute mark. 

This gradual approach allows the body to adapt to the cold temperature slowly and minimize discomfort.

Who Should Engage in Cold Showers According to Tim Ferriss?

Tim Ferriss believes that cold showers can benefit virtually everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. He considers cold showers to be a simple and effective way to stimulate the body's adaptive response to cold stress, leading to numerous physiological and psychological benefits.

Whether you are an athlete looking to enhance recovery, an entrepreneur seeking increased focus, or simply someone wanting to improve overall well-being, Ferriss suggests that incorporating cold showers into your routine can yield valuable results.

Benefits and Applications of Cold Showers According to Tim Ferriss

1. Improved Circulation and Recovery: 

Cold showers cause vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow to the extremities and redirecting it to vital organs. This improved circulation can accelerate post-exercise recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and promote tissue repair.

2. Enhanced Immune Function: 

Tim Ferriss cites studies suggesting that cold exposure, such as cold showers, can stimulate the production of white blood cells, potentially strengthening the immune system and increasing resistance to illnesses.

3. Mental Clarity and Focus: 

Cold showers trigger the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter associated with increased focus and alertness. Ferriss believes that starting the day with a cold shower can boost cognitive function and set a productive tone.

4. Fat Loss and Metabolism Boost: 

Ferriss points to research indicating that regular cold exposure can activate brown adipose tissue (BAT), which burns calories to generate heat. This is relevant since a lot of people wonder if cold plunges burn fat. Cold showers might contribute to a modest increase in metabolic rate and aid in weight management efforts.

5. Stress Reduction and Mood Enhancement: 

Cold exposure has been associated with the release of endorphins, leading to improved mood and reduced stress levels. Incorporating cold showers into a daily routine might help individuals feel more relaxed and energized.

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