Who stands in 1,543 pounds of ice cubes without dying of hypothermia?
Who can double his metabolism without any increase in heart rate?
Who was once injected with E. coli and only suffered a mild headache?
Why are scientists studying a subject, because of extraordinary performances?
Only Wim Hof, otherwise know as the Iceman, could demand so much attention and truly be a mystery to the scientific community. The 58-year old flush-cheeked Dutch daredevil has accumulated almost 20 world records, including submersion in the longest ice bath, climbing snowy mountain peaks wearing only shorts, running marathons around the polar circle, as well as many others. Hof has managed to develop an auto-immune system that has scientists stupefied. He’s been injected with E. coli by scientists and his only side effect has been a headache. Others injected with the same E. coli suffered influenza. Scientists don’t know what to make of him.
So what’s he tapped into that we need to know?
Cold therapy, breathing and commitment are the three pillars of his philosophy.
Cold therapy has many benefits. It builds up brown adipose tissue causing subsequent fat loss and reduced inflammation which in turn facilitates a fortified immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and an endorphin rush. Within the Hof Method lies a strong belief that specialized breathing technique can keep the body in optimal condition- more energy, reduced stress levels, and an augmented immune response to swiftly deal with pathogens- and he’s proven it to be true. The idea is to inhale deeply and exhale profoundly but not fully without exerting much effort. With just these methods, the autonomic nervous system can be influenced and one can establish a certain control over their health. Previously the nervous system was regarded as a system that can’t be voluntarily influenced. Hof is putting this theory to the test.
While the Hof Method might seem far-fetched or extreme to some, people are flocking to him for instructor certification in the hopes they too can bring his philosophy to broader communities. Workshops are held globally and expeditions yearly. He’s spoken on Ted Talk and received millions of hits on YouTube. Is it a passing whim? (no pun intended!) Twenty years ago people snubbed yoga for its meditative and health benefits. Who knows, maybe in another 20 we’ll all be climbing ice cold mountains in shorts and making ice plunge baths a must.
In his own words, Hof states, “I’ve programmed myself so that in essence I am the alchemist of my own body.”
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