College of DuPage Nursing Student Jessica Morice shared that an ice-cold shower is the furthest thing from one’s mind when cold symptoms arise. That is, unless you are Wim Hof, or one of his millions of global-wide followers. Who is Wim Hof? He is a 61-year-old Dutchman, who has created his own ‘cold exposure’ method for people all over the world to control their mind and body to do unimaginable things.
Wim Hof explains that his method ‘is based on three simple, natural pillars: cold exposure, conscious breathing, and the powerful mind.’ (Hof, xvii). The method ranges from cold showers to ice baths, to hiking world-famous mountains in a pair of shorts. Anyone can start at any time and assistance is provided by a downloadable free app offered by Wim Hof called ‘the WHF’, which stands for the Wim Hof Method. Beginning with deep breathing techniques, small steps are taken to eventually reach the goal of cold showers, every day. Each of the pillars contributes many benefits and with routine, any individual can unlock the advantages that this method has to offer.
A long list of benefits is contributed by the compilation of the three pillars. Cold therapy boosts mood and the immune system, reduces inflammation, and enhances better sleep; Deep breathing improves energy levels, enhances detoxing, rebalances the nervous system, and reduces stress levels; According to his most recent book, ). The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential, ‘Commitment to the method encourages movement out of one’s comfort zone and reaching deeper psychologically’ (Wim Hof, 2020). Studies from universities including Radboud University in the Netherlands and Wayne State University in Michigan have interviewed Wim Hof followers all around the world. Some of the benefits reported from the Endotoxin study, ‘Influencing the Immune System’ done at Radbound University include better sleep, recovery from workouts, anti-inflammation, and overall increased energy (Kox et al. 2014). The study also stated that diseases and illnesses such as Lyme Disease, anxiety, depression, arthritis, MS, diabetes, and asthma have been positively affected by this method and thousands of people continue to attest to these findings.
The feeling of being cold is not considered a pleasant feeling. Maybe that is why it has taken so long to be discovered or studied. It wasn’t until 2011, that research teams began to take his methods seriously. Radboud University completed a study that revealed the results of the Wim Hof method and found the improved immune system and sympathetic nervous system function by injection of endotoxin. Another study done by Wayne State University called the ‘Brain Over Body’ (Muzik et. al., 2017) aimed to understand the brain function that allows Wim Hof to be able to withstand the freezing measures experienced by the body. The findings included activation of pain suppression and self-reflection of the brain, showing that his method does in fact produce the results that members are reporting. These studies are just a few examples of the findings, although other researchers are currently exploring his methods.
Overall, the method continues to expand and millions of people across the world live their lives based on these beliefs and teachings. Just like any other type of routine, building up from small steps to extreme measures takes time, but many people continue to experience the many benefits of the Wim Hof Method. Both physical and mental benefits continue to be reported and Wim Hof himself continues to impress the world as he develops his next big accomplishment.
Hof , W. (2020). The Wim Hof Method Activate Your Full Human Potential . Sounds True.
Kox, M, et al. “0026. Voluntary Activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System and Attenuation of the Innate Immune Response in Humans.” Intensive Care Medicine Experimental, vol. 2, no. Suppl 1, 2014, doi:10.1186/2197-425x-2-s1-o2.
Muzik, Otto, et al. “‘Brain over Body’–A Study on the Willful Regulation of Autonomic Function during Cold Exposure.” NeuroImage, vol. 172, 2018, pp. 632–641., doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.01.067.
Wim Hof Method. (2018). Welcome to the Official Wim Hof Method Website. http://www.wimhofmethod.com/.