Avatar universal

Dangers of jumping into cold water

Hi Everyone,
I just joined this forum, and was hoping that someone with medical knowledge could shed some light on a question I have. I suspect this has already been answered, but I wouldn't know how to find it...

So basically I have developed a concept for remaining happy in my life, and it's working great, basically I do something special every day. It's usually just small things like calling a friend, eating an exotic fruit, etc. I usually plan these things a few weeks in advance, and my latest idea is to jump into cold water. I've never done it before, and I'm thinking of going for a run first to get my blood flowing, then jumping into a river. The thing is that here in germany it gets quite cold, and flowing water can get down to about 1 or 2 degrees C below 0 without freezing. The outside air will be somewhere between 5 and 20 below 0.

So my question is this: If I go for a run, jump into water at below 0, and then immediately get out and put on some dry clothes, am I gonna get pneumonia or something? I don't mind getting a cold that happens every winter anyway, I just don't want to seriously injure myself that's all... Thanks in advance for your answer :)
10 Responses
Avatar universal
One more thing, what is the chance of me not actually being able to get out of the river due to the temperature? I fell through ice once when I was about 6, and it was so cold I felt like I couldn't move. That was a long time ago though so I don't know if that's a real phenomenon or just a "sensation"... By the way I'm 24 and lead a very healthy lifestyle, don't have heart problems, etc...
784382 tn?1376931040
i dont know about this one... could be dangerous..... some people go swimming in that water though i have seen it on the news..... jumping into cold water could cause your muscles to tense up and maybe you could get that feeling of not being able to move.....

do you have any friends that are willing to go with you?...even if they dont get in the water to make sure that your ok....

and i would be prepared to get sick after that
973741 tn?1342342773
Hm.  I don't know either.  Can the heart go into shock from that?  You hear of people freezing themselves for the future--------  okay, that is in the sci fi movies.  But I know that if the body hits a certain temp it will start to shut down.  Honestly, I wouldn't risk it.  I'd wait until summer and run for a bit and then jump into a cold river that is a lower temp but that couldn't possibly be dangerous.  

Remember, you are doing things to make yourself happy . . . not sure how freezing yourself got into the mix.  I'd stick with the exotic fruit, myself.  These are just my thoughts.  But if you go through with the jumping into freezing water, Turkee has a good idea of making sure some people are with you that can help should a problem arise.  good luck
484160 tn?1343397921
I really don't think there is much danger as you are young and presumably healthy.  In the US there  are polar bear clubs that do this every year. At a health club I used to belong to they had a pool of really cold water and the deal was to get into the sauna and open your pores and once you sweated your pores clean, you were supposed to jump in the ice water.  Lots of folks did it on a regular basis, and I never heard of anyone getting sick.  I think the trick is to not stay in for a long time and get warm and dry afterward.
389974 tn?1331015242
In general, you can count on the water being 4C (water reaches its maximum density at 4C, if it gets colder it rises, this is why ice forms on the top of a lake, and not all the way through it).

There are polar swim clubs that swim in such water. Google "polar swim club" to find them. They do organized events where people all jump into cold water.
973741 tn?1342342773
I have never heard of a polar bear club. Very interesting.  I'm more of the can't drag me out of the sauna club and where is the warm hot tub crowd.  But obviously, lots of people must enjoy doing this.  So go for it.  An organized event sounds like a good way to start.  good luck.
Avatar universal
To keep from having problems, it's best to take all of your clothes off before getting in the water. (Please keep your underwear on) Afterwards, put your clothes back on and take a warm shower :)
973741 tn?1342342773
Since this  post, I have seen lots of polar plunges.  I had no idea how popular that is!  
5530139 tn?1369470319
I live in north of Bosnia so, yes, it also gets really cold out here during the winter. I have jumped into the cold river few times this year. I haven't measured the temperature of the water, but it was January and it was ******* cold, just above the freezing, I guess. The thing is that I always drench my body before actually jumping into it. When I get out it is really cold, but then I go and jump once again and the second time it is like during the summer. Still, I don't stay more than 10 seconds in it. Afterwards, I put my clothes on and go home running to warm up, then take a warm shower. The feeling is just awesome. I find it as a part of my healthcare.
3 years old reply...yea, sorry about that! :D
134578 tn?1614729226
Main thing is, inhale deeply and fill your lungs before you jump. Your breathing apparatus (either trachea or lungs, I'm not sure) can spasm shut with the shock of cold water. If you have empty lungs (such as, you have shouted "Look at me!" as you plunge in), you will be momentarily unable to intake a breath. If that happens to someone with full lungs, the air in the lungs will do a lot to float the person up to the surface. But if the person has no air in his or her lungs, he or she will have less buoyancy and be likely to sink. Add to that being unable to take a breath because of a spasmed shut breathing apparatus, and it is not surprising there are so many drownings in cold rivers.

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