Marcus Wilson, the CEO CryoBuilt, answers how cryotherapy works and other pressing questions.
Cryotherapy is quickly becoming a must have in all gyms with members demanding it as an available recovery service. While some members are very aware of it, others are unsure exactly what it is; and understandably a little cautious to try it out. The best way to make your cryotherapy offering successful is to provide education and awareness to your members so that they are more willing to try it. Once they try it they will be hooked.
What does cryotherapy feel like?
Whole-body cryotherapy is the brief exposure to ultra-low air temperatures in a fully enclosed, insulated room with the intention of lowering external skin temperature. While this sounds painful, it’s much more comfortable than a cold plunge or even a cold shower. This is because whole-body cryo uses hyper-cooled, oxygenated air rather than a fluid — such as water — to cool. Air has a much lower insulating factor, so your body gets the great benefits of cold without the pain of being covered in water.
Why does it feel good?
When you step in the whole-body cryo chamber, the skin receptors in your skin send a fight or flight signal to your brain. Your brain releases a chemical called norepinephrine which is a cold shock protein that regulates endorphins such as dopamine and adrenaline. This is the body’s natural reaction to allow you mental clarity and strength to get through a potentially difficult situation. These chemicals instantly give you confidence that you can get through the session after the initial cold shock. Bonus, the endorphins last for hours after the session so you walk away feeling great and may experience elevated mood for several hours. Your body will also produce excess melatonin in response to high endorphin release and many experience vastly improved sleep the night after doing cryotherapy.
Why is it beneficial?
In addition to elevated mood, increased energy levels and better sleep, there is a lot more that is happening in your body when doing cryotherapy. As part of your body’s natural response to cold, blood rushes from your extremities to your core to protect your vital organs by keeping them warm. This process is called vasoconstriction and vasodilation which will regulate the size and flow of blood throughout your body. During vasoconstriction — while inside the cryo chamber — blood vessels will constrict and direct blood to specific parts of your body and thus lower blood pressure. After the cryo session, vasodilation will expand blood vessels to allow increased flow of freshly oxygenated blood throughout the body, bringing with it an army of new white blood cells. White blood cells are referred to as “soldier cells” due to their ability to fight of viruses and improving your overall immune system. This new supercharged blood will also help to heal muscles and reduce overall inflammation throughout the body.
But wait, there’s more!
During cryotherapy, your body will also release the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione is known as a “master antioxidant” and breaks down toxins in your body. Toxins enter your body through outside forces such as the sun, pollution, poor diet and stress. Stress, like working out, can break down cells and cause exhaustion. It’s why we feel tired during and after workouts. Glutathione helps to repair damaged cells from such stress and limits/reverses the negative effects of stress toxins. This results in energy boost during exercise, sustained energy, increased stamina and endurance, and reduced exhaustion.
Will it help me lose weight?
There are many claims of several hundred calories being burnt during a cryotherapy session. While this exact number will vary for everyone, the process of thermoregulation — your body doing work to maintain homeostasis — certainly burns calories. In addition to thermoregulation burning calories, extreme cold exposure promotes brown fat cell production. Brown fat cells are mitochondria-packed cells that burn energy and reduce white fat cells to stay warm. We are all born with high levels of brown fat cells, but they reduce as we age. Extreme cold exposure such as cryotherapy is one of the only known ways to increase brown fat cells and is a great way to keep your metabolism strong.
Simply put, cryotherapy is the ultimate biohack and should be an asset in any gym of fitness center.