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I bet that almost everyone reading this article knows someone who recently installed a sauna in their yard or is dunking their body into an ice bucket. If you have seen people doing this and wondered what the f*** they were doing and why, I’m here to break it down for you.
  • Jourdan Ilardi

Biohacking: Hot & Cold Therapy

Biohacking, which refers to the practice of using science, technology, and lifestyle changes to optimize one’s health and performance, has stepped into the health and wellness scene in a big way. While the term “biohacking” may sound complex and exclusive, the principles and practices can be applied by anyone interested in improving their overall well-being. Among the most popular biohacks you may be familiar with are intermittent fasting, sleep optimization, high-intensity interval training, hot/cold therapy, mindfulness and meditation, nutritional optimization, and supplementation. 

I am going to focus on two that I am confident you have seen a lot of lately, cryotherapy and thermotherapy, also known as cold and heat therapy. I bet that almost everyone reading this article knows someone who recently installed a sauna in their yard or is dunking their body into an ice bucket. If you have seen people doing this and wondered what the f*** they were doing and why, I’m here to break it down for you. 


Let’s start with cold therapy, or cryotherapy, which involves the application of cold temperatures to the body. Cryotherapy has been practiced for centuries and has roots in various cultures around the world. The Greek physician Hippocrates, often considered the father of medicine, advocated the use of cold water immersion and cold compresses for treating various ailments. And he was just touching the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. 

Here’s a list of the benefits of cryotherapy:

  1. Improved circulation and faster muscle recovery.
  2. Reduced inflammation and pain relief.
  3. Increased energy levels and alertness.
  4. Enhanced mood and mental well-being.
  5. Strengthened immune system and resilience to stress.
  6. Skin and hair health improvement.
  7. Time-efficient and cost-effective compared to other forms of therapy.
  8. Potential weight loss benefits through increased metabolism.
  9. Increased cold tolerance and adaptation to stress.
  10. Simple and accessible self-care practice for overall wellness.
How to apply it to your life:

The easiest way to incorporate this into your life is by simply spending the last 30 seconds of your shower dropping the temperature as cold as it can go – or as cold as you can tolerate. As you build up your tolerance, you can work on increasing the duration of time. You can also purchase great, affordable at-home ice baths or even just fill up your household bathtub with ice water. Outdoor winter activities (like winter walks) have also been shown to be beneficial. No matter which form you take, the primary benefits remain the same.


Heat therapy, or thermotherapy, involves the application of heat to the body. The most common method is in a sauna. Saunas have been used for centuries and have their origins in Finland. In fact, the Finnish sauna tradition dates back thousands of years. The combination of hot sauna sessions followed by plunges into snow or icy water was believed to promote health, well-being, and endurance. And there’s a reason this tradition stuck around.

Here are some key benefits of sauna usage:

  1. Improved cardiovascular health: Saunas increase heart rate and blood circulation, leading to improved cardiovascular function and reduced risk of heart-related conditions.
  2. Detoxification: Saunas induce sweating, which helps eliminate toxins and heavy metals from the body, promoting detoxification and overall health.
  3. Relaxation and stress reduction: The heat and quiet environment of a sauna promote relaxation, reduce stress levels, and provide a calming effect on the mind and body.
  4. Muscle relaxation and pain relief: Sauna heat helps relax muscles, alleviate tension, and reduce muscle soreness, thereby providing relief from chronic pain conditions and aiding in post-workout recovery.
  5. Skin health improvement: Sauna usage can enhance skin health by opening up pores, promoting circulation, and promoting a healthy glow. It may also help with conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
  6. Enhanced respiratory function: The warm and humid environment of saunas can help improve respiratory conditions such as congestion, asthma, and bronchitis by opening up airways and promoting mucus clearance.
  7. Improved sleep quality: Regular sauna use has been associated with improved sleep quality and can help those with insomnia or sleep disturbances find better rest.
  8. Immune system support: Saunas stimulate the production of white blood cells, improving immune function and helping the body fight off infections and illnesses.
  9. Mental well-being and mood enhancement: Sauna sessions can promote the release of endorphins, boosting mood, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and enhancing overall mental well-being.
  10. Social and cultural benefits: Saunas provide a communal and social space for relaxation and bonding, fostering connections and cultural traditions that contribute to overall well-being.
How to apply it to your life:

If you are new to saunas or have a low tolerance for heat, start with sessions lasting around 5-10 minutes. Take breaks outside the sauna to cool down if needed. As your tolerance increases, you can extend your sessions to about 15-20 minutes. Remember to listen to your body and step out if you feel uncomfortable or lightheaded. Those who are accustomed to sauna use and can tolerate higher temperatures may stay in the sauna for up to 30 minutes or even longer. Still, it is essential to monitor your body’s response and adjust the time spent in the sauna accordingly. Remember that individual factors such as health, age, and overall fitness level can influence sauna tolerance. It’s crucial to stay hydrated during and after sauna sessions, as sweating can lead to fluid loss.

Get Hacking!

The endless desire for humans to optimize their lives means that biohacking is here to stay. It has the potential to help anyone, including health enthusiasts, athletes, individuals with specific health conditions, professionals seeking cognitive enhancement, the aging population, those interested in weight management, and individuals focused on self-improvement. My advice is to experiment! You may find your own personalized approach to optimizing different aspects of your health and performance that lead you to the next level of health and wellness.

Happy biohacking!

About the Author

Jourdie 2022

Jourdan Ilardi

Jourdan Ilardi is a Certified Group Exercise Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Primal Health Coach.
She also manages the Front Desk at Fitness Incentive.

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