It's been a few years since we posted an article outlining the Wim Hof Method, its benefits, and if there was some truth or bullshit to this practice.
It's time for a follow-up article.
Why? Let's just say it's long overdue. Almost 2 and a half years later and I personally still practice the Wim Hof method daily, without fail. There have certainly been a few changes within this practice including some health benefits, apps I’m currently using, and even the technique I use.
If you are unfamiliar with the Wim Hof method, I certainly encourage you to google this now. The method is based on the 3 fundamentals of cold therapy, breathing, and commitment. The method itself involves taking 30 - 40 deep breaths and on the last breath, exhale, and hold your breath (without any air) and time yourself. Once you feel the need to take a breath, breathe in and hold for another 15 seconds, that is one round. To gain the most from this method it is suggested to do 3-4 rounds in the morning on an empty stomach.
Cold therapy is also a part of the practice, this comes in the form of cold showers, ice baths etc. Literally, any way to submerse yourself within cold water. Having since moved to Australia this has become a slight challenge which I shall explain in detail later.
The health benefits to this practice include the following:
Now, having practised this method for nearly 2 and a half years, I think it's fair to have my own opinion on each health benefit to see how it has affected me personally.
I rarely suffer from not being able to sleep, granted there is certainly nights where I wake up a lot during the night but overall, I don’t have any issue drifting off to sleep. I think a proper evening routine is also vital to settling down for the night. What time you eat, reducing your blue light, not touching your phone etc. All contribute towards getting restful sleep. I have no doubt the Wim Hof Method certainly adds some value to this but good structure is just as important.
I think it's certainly hard to measure your creativity, ask yourself if you think you’re creative and I bet the answer is probably a no? If I was to think back before I started this and compare my creativity to now, I would say there has been some increased creativity but not a huge leap. I would certainly say that my ambition has certainly increased but that’s another thing altogether. I have noticed that when I do this practice I certainly come up with new ideas and thoughts or solutions to problems I had not thought of before.
Now, this benefit I can certainly vouch for. I feel my recovery from my workouts has certainly decreased since starting deep breathing. I rarely get sore muscles or ache the next day after a workout. I also find if I feel sick (which is rare) I certainly recover faster from that sickness. Call it a placebo but before doing this practice I was quite vulnerable to getting sick. Of course, lifestyle choices also play a part in this but these days my sick days are far and few in between.
I’m not enterally sure how one can check if their inflammation has been reduced but I will say this, I do suffer from Sinusitis which is caused by inflammation. I use to take medication but have since stopped since doing this method. There are days where it flares but it's very far and few in-between.
Stress levels reduced
This is by far the biggest change I have noticed. I use to be quite stressed at times, anxious with my head all over the place. These days I rarely get stressed. Even after a shitty day in the office I still can leave all my troubles at the office. I don’t suffer from any anxiety (apart from when I’m hungover) so for me, this has been one of the key reasons why I still practice the Wim Hof Method.
I really don’t think breathing exercises alone can burn fat, hate to say it but this seems like a bit of a stretch. To burn fat, it takes two essential components, calorie deficit and exercise. Breathing and cold showers alone will not make an overweight person skinny.
Boundless energy levels
My energy levels are certainly up there these days compared to what they were in my 20’s. I certainly think the breathing exercises contribute to this but so do healthy lifestyle choices including quitting smoking, eating mostly raw foods etc. Overall though I do feel a surge of energy in the mornings and even after a long day at work I always have time to work out.
I guess with reduced anxiety and stress levels your mood will naturally improve. I must admit it's rare for me to feel any real frustration or genuine anger and it has been this way for a long time. I do get pissed off at times but that’s just being human.
Enhance athletic performance
I'm no super athlete by all means but I do find I can not only exercise for long but also recover faster from my workouts as mentioned earlier. I wouldn’t say it will give you superhuman strength or having you running like The Flash but it certainly gives you that little extra push when you least expect it.
Aside from the benefits mentioned above I have noticed if I do the method when I’m hungover, the symptoms ease up. It's difficult to do the method when I’m still half cut, I must admit. Usually, my retention times are a lot less but afterwards, I barely feel hungover. That alone is more than enough reason for me to keep on doing this.
The technique I use is your basic 3 rounds, any more and I feel like I’m going to pass out, any less and it doesn’t have the same effect. After I’ve done my 3 rounds, I tend to meditate afterwards all before I get ready for the day. I try to incorporate this with cold showers but in Australia, especially in the summer months, getting water cold enough can be a little bit tricky. There is the odd occasion where I will have an ice bath but I am also water conscious.
Unfortunately, I no longer use the Wim Hof app. It’s a great app I must admit but since having to pay for the guided breathing via a yearly subscription, I’ve gone elsewhere. Currently, I am using an app called Breathe Like Wim. It’s a great app and the free version allows for guided breathing and has a meditation feature for after you finish. The voice is very robotic to some extent and doesn't have the humble approach offered with the Wim Hof app but it’s a great free alternative. If you are also familiar with Insight Timer, I would certainly look up an instructor called Ryan Bean. Ryan has a lot of practices dedicated to the Wim Hof Method for all levels which work really well.
So over 2 and half years later my conclusion is this, this really is a game-changer! No longer do I feel depressed, uninspired, or suffering from anxiety attacks. This is now a part of my morning routine and I genuinely believe I would be using the Wim Hof Method for the rest of my life. I rarely skip a day but when I do, I feel like shit.
I certainly encourage anyone who is even contemplating it to just try it for 2 weeks and see how different you feel. 2 weeks that’s it! As stated in the past it's impossible not to feel inspired by Wim Hof and his videos/podcast and with science backing up his claims this is the real deal. It's incredible how the breath alone can literally influence so much of our daily lives. Taking just 10 – 15 minutes out of your day doing 3 rounds of breathe work can set you up for the day!