Would you jump into icy cold waters!? The “Polar Bear Plunge” is a winter tradition typically associated with New Year’s Day in Canada, by which on January 1 a number of crazy Canadians leap into frosty bodies of waters (whether it be a pond, river, lake or ocean) while cheered on by large crowds of spectators!
In addition to being exhilarating (maybe even refreshing!?) cold water swimming has been touted to have numerous health benefits! But what are the possible health risks of the Polar Bear Plunge?
- “Cold shock”, the sudden cold of immersing yourself in ice cold water can cause you to involuntarily gasp, followed by involuntary hyperventilation!
- The increased strain on your heart may be dangerous for those with existing heart problems
Before taking the leap, most organizations require participants (aka “dippers”) to sign a waiver, which notes the health risks associated with jumping into extremely cold waters, and suggests that patients consult with their physicians prior to participation. Likewise, the waivers highlight several groups of people that should not participate, including pregnant women, and those with poor cardiac functions or poor health or who suffer from seizures.
Looking to get in on the action? If you’re in Calgary, Alberta, check out www.calgaryicebreaker.com where you can choose to register for a “Dip” or to Donate!