NCTV Episode 49

Continuing with the series of bitesize health tip videos which can be found here on my YouTube Channel, this episode, includes:-

  • The Iceman
  • The Breathing
  • The Cold
  • Joe Wicks
  • The Science


If you’d prefer to read the content within, rather than watch the video, then feel free to read the transcript, as follows:-

Hello and welcome to NCTV Episode 49 and this week I’m going waaay back to Episode 1, almost this time last year, when I was talking about deep breathing and meditation. And those with a good memory will remember that I mentioned there were other breathing techniques that I’d cover in a future video, well that time has now come, and I’m going to talk to you specifically about The Wim Hof Method, so here it is.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Wim Hof is a person who is also nicknamed The Iceman and he has developed a three-part method to make you stronger, healthier and happier that involves a) Frequent Cold Exposure b) Deep Breathing techniques and c) Commitment.

Firstly, a bit about Wim, he’s named The Iceman for a reason and that’s thanks to the many Guinness World Records he’s set for various feats like the longest ice bath, which was just under 2 hours, fastest half marathon whilst barefoot running on ice and snow – 2 hours 16 and the furthest swim under ice which was 57.5 meters. Oh and he’s also climbed Everest and Kilimanjaro in a matter of days wearing nothing but his shorts and shoes and has run a full marathon in the Namib Desert without any water. As a result, he attributes these superhuman feats to the method he’s developed which I’ll describe to you in more detail now.

If we start with the deep breathing, the purpose of this is to increase the amount of oxygen in the body to help improve your energy levels, so it’s a great way to start your day. Some of the advantages of doing this are to help reduce stress, recover faster from physical exertion, improve your sleep, sports performance, creativity, focus and mental clarity.

To perform the Wim Hof breathing technique you sit or lie down comfortably in a relaxed environment, calm your mind and start by breathing consciously and slowly, gradually inhaling deeply from your abdomen until you completely fill your lungs and on the exhalation you simply let go of the breath rather than forcefully exhale all the way. Do this 30-40 times and after the final exhalation try holding your breath for between 1-3 minutes which is called the retention time. When the urge to breath arises you then take one more deep breath in and then hold it for 15 seconds then let it go, which completes 1 cycle. Repeat 3-4 cycles and preferably on an empty stomach. It’s normal to experience tinging in the hands, light headedness or tinnitus whilst doing this as I can attest to but if this feels too unpleasant for you then stop and try again later.

Now onto the cold exposure element which is a vital part of the method as it’s beneficial for both your mind and body. You’re encouraged to see the cold not as a hostile force but rather an ally to help revitalise the key physiological processes. Sustained cold exposure can help lower your baseline heart rate which reduces stress on the blood vessels which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues. Some of the other advantages are to help reduce stress, increase alertness, create a more robust immune response, increase your willpower and help with weight loss.

One of the easiest ways to do this is through cold showers and for best results it’s recommended you incorporate these into your daily routine. This obviously takes strength and dedication so it’s advised that you gradually build up the duration and intensity, starting with a warm shoulder and then ending with 15-30 seconds of cold and the colder the better. Again, from personal experience it doesn’t take too long for your tolerance to increase and eventually you may even look forward to it. If you wanted to take it a step further then you can even progress onto ice baths as Joe Wicks demonstrated the other week which he actually undertook under Wim Hof’s personal guidance.

The third element to the method is Commitment, which is basically sticking to it, to help develop your will-power and self-control so that you can become the best version of yourself. To help take control of your body and mind, The Wim Hof Method also has some meditations and exercises to assist.

In terms of the science behind it, the current evidence shows that part of the nervous system and immune system can be voluntarily influenced, possibly due to the anti-inflammatory effect produced by the techniques. So this could potentially be useful for treating inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. Also, those who practice the methods seem to develop fewer flu like symptoms. Additionally, a report showed that the method helped to reduce Acute Mountain Sickness (or AMS) and it helps to reverse the symptoms that develop from it. Another has shown that through the method, people can learn to control their autonomic nervous systems to tolerate extreme cold. However, whilst the evidence is increasing, more research is needed for the Wim Hof Method and it is continually ongoing.

A few words of warning, know that fainting isn’t uncommon with this and The Wim Hof Method is not advised if you are pregnant or if you have a history of either respiratory problems like asthma, stroke, high or low blood pressure or if you’re taking any medications.

If you want to find out more and investigate this yourself further, I’d recommend his book The Wim Hof Method, and you can check out his website or download the free app to try some of the techniques yourself.

That pretty much covers it, thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time for some more bitesize bits to help your health flourish. Bye for now!