Should you use the cold tub?

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes....

Welcome to the positive corner of the internet. Here’s a daily digest designed to make you healthier in less than 5 minutes. If you were forwarded this message, you can get the free daily email here.

Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Intensity insurance

  • Should you use the cold tub?

  • Sweet Dreams

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Intensity Insurance

Every week, we provide endless examples of how small steps with your fitness or nutrition can lead to better health. But, if you want more protection for your heart, going the extra mile offers added benefits.

Researchers studied more than 88,000 adults and found that those who worked out more — and at a higher intensity — saw a more considerable reduction in cardiovascular diseases.

All activity was linked with more heart protection, but when people shifted from lower-intensity exercise to moderate-to-vigorous intensity, they saw about a 14 percent improvement in risk reduction.

The type of activity is up to you, so choose what you enjoy and try to do it consistently. If you want an idea of what “moderate-to-vigorous intensity” looks like, the researchers suggested that it’s the equivalent of doing a 7-minute run instead of a 14-minute stroll.

Let’s Talk Ice Baths

You see it everywhere on social media. Fitfluencers, bodybuilders, MMA athletes, and maybe even your neighbor — everyone is seemingly immersing themselves in tubs filled with ice or cold water. But is the hype real?

If your goal is building muscle, research suggests that a post-workout freeze might negatively affect growth.

It appears that the cold reduces some of the inflammatory responses that occur after lifting weights, which play a role in building muscle mass. That doesn’t mean the cold has no benefits (Daniel swears by his cold tub habit). It can potentially help with the recovery and make you feel better. But the question is whether the trade-off is worth it. If your goal is to maximize muscle growth, you might want to save the cold water for days when you do extremely hard workouts and want some additional recovery or less soreness.

If muscle growth isn’t your primary goal, research suggests cold water immersion seems to be fine and may somewhat help boost recovery and performance (decreases in soreness and inflammation, increases in power and flexibility), although not always by a whole lot. If you want to experiment with cold water immersion, it appears that using water that’s around 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 to 30 minutes within 48 hours after exercise can help. However, keep in mind that cold water immersion cannot replace the fundamentals (sleep, load & stress management, nutrition) and should only be viewed as a minor tool in your recovery toolbox.

Editor’s note: If you want a deeper dive into topics like these, we recommend REPS from our friend Layne Norton. If you’re interested, they’re offering 20% off to all Arnold’s Pump Club members. You can learn more here and use code arnold7iz4xq.

Sweet Dreams

If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, adding a little fish to your diet could be the little habit that helps you get better rest.

Recent research suggests that fish oil might improve dreaming frequency and sleep quality.

In the study, participants took a fish oil supplement (the healthy fatty acid found in most fish) and experienced several positive changes, including less difficulty falling asleep. The participants who saw benefits all received a dose of 576 mg of DHA and 284 mg of EPA per day.

And this isn’t the first time fish and fish oil have been associated with sleep improvements. Prior research also found that fish oil makes it easier to fall asleep and improves daytime performance. While researchers have many theories about why this might happen, a popular suggestion is that fish oil — DHA in particular — can help naturally increase your melatonin levels, improving sleep quality.