What’s all this Wim Hof business about?
Have you been watching Freeze The Fear With Wim Hof? It’s a new TV programme on BBC1 each Tuesday at 9pm. And it’s taking the nation by storm!
But you may be wondering who on earth Wim Hof is and if indeed his method has any health benefits? Well, wonder no more! We’ve done a little research for you. And here’s what we found…
Also known as ‘Ice Man Hof’, the 61 year old Dutch extreme athlete got his nickname after completing several feats of endurance in very cold climates. He’s summited Kilimanjaro in shorts, run a barefoot half marathon in the Arctic and regularly immerses himself in ice baths – all for the benefit of his health.
His ‘method’ for greater wellbeing is perhaps best described as a combination of cold exposure, breath work and meditation.
And the reasons behind the Wim Hof Method?
Better mental health. Better sleep. Stress relief. Improved mind and body connection. Arthritis relief. Boosted endorphins. Autonomic nervous system control. Asthma management. Better sporting performance. Stronger immune system. More energy. The list (according to Wim’s website) goes on…
Which kind of hints at why the world has gone mad for Ice Man Hof.
And it all begins with breathing. The most natural thing in the world, right? So natural, in fact, we hardly notice we’re doing it 17,000 times (or thereabouts) a day.
But Wim’s method places its focus on a different type of breath to the usual, shallow, unconsidered breathing of our day to day lives. You may have seen it in action on the show. It brought Tamsin Outhwaite to tears and made Gabby Logan hallucinate. There were some pretty strong reactions!
Instead, Wim Hof advocates a commitment to jump-starting your body with his breathing techniques each morning, as soon as you wake, before breakfast.
His 20 minute practice should be daily, in order to reap the rewards.
A quick guide to the Wim Hof Method
- Take 30 to 40 quick, powerful breaths, holding the final breath for as long as you can
- Take a long, deep ‘recovery breath’
- And repeat three to four times
- Then relax and let your breathing return to normal
There’s a tonne of anecdotal evidence online about the brilliance of the technique, which, combined with cold showers, (for those of us without access to an outdoor ice bath), has cured rheumatism, banished sciatica, driven away depression and sated stress according to Wim’s many loyal advocates.
But there’s a whole heap of scientific proof behind the practice too. And it’s harder to argue with that.
So, is it time to switch on a cold shower and immerse yourself in the method?
Wim recommends taking your usual morning shower, but turning the tap to the blue side for the last 30 seconds, as a good way to get started. Then you can gradually build up the duration and intensity over time.
Coupling this dedicated breathing practice with cold therapy and committing to it daily, so it becomes habitual, is where the magic happens.
You can take a free, three-part mini class with Wim via his website, to learn more about the power of breathing, the power of cold showers and the power of your mind.