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Mark Consuelos Shows Off Ripped Abs During Cold Plunge

Mark Consuelos took a six-minute cold plunge on "Live with Kelly and Mark" and experts explain the health benefits. 
FACT CHECKED BY Jeremy Horowitz

Mark Consuelos is getting comfortable in his new gig and proving he's willing to do what it takes to be a good host alongside his wife Kelly Ripa on Live with Kelly and Mark, including taking the plunge. The actor, who took over for Ryan Seacrest in April, recently showed off his toned abs and stripped down as he participated in cold plunge therapy on the show with Michael Gelman, the show's longtime producer, for "Aches and Pain Week." The two did a six-minute cold plunge in tubs filled with ice and the 52-year-old admitted he wouldn't mind doing them at home. "I feel good," he said. There are many health benefits to doing a cold plunge and Eat This, Not That! spoke with experts who explain what to know and why to consider taking one. 

Start Slow


A six-minute cold plunge might not seem like a long time, but for beginners it is.  I would recommend starting slowly with cold plunges," Dr. Mark A. Slabaugh, M.D., an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon with Sports Medicine at Mercy Medical Center, tells us. "Time in an ice bath should start with 1-2 minutes until your body acclimates to the cold plunges over several sessions.  As you become more accustomed to the cold then you can increase the time in the ice baths." M.A. Sports Performance and USAW National Coach Jarrod Nobbe adds, "Doing in-out cycles is an excellent way to build acclimation to the cold. Dip in the plunge for 1-2 minutes, and then get out. Repeat this for a few cycles." 

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Cold Plunges Aren't For Everyone


There's many health benefits to cold plunges, but they're not for everyone. People with certain medical conditions should consult with their doctor first, Dr. Slabaugh warns. "Anyone who has lung, heart, or vascular issues should consult with their doctor before considering cold plunges or ice baths since the cold water causes the arteries to constrict, limiting blood flow and increasing the stress on your heart and lungs."

Increased Mental Acuity


One benefit of a cold plunge is increased mental acuity, Dr. Slabaugh says. "Just like a cold shower wakes you up in the morning, cold plunges help to stimulate brain blood flow." He adds, "This fight-or-flight response to the cold helps clear your mind and focus on the tasks.  Many find that cold plunges give them time to prioritize their daily activities and help them make clear decisions."

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Decreased Inflammation and Muscle Fatigue/Soreness


Pain relief is another reason to consider a cold plunge, according to Dr. Slabaugh. "For those who have exercised vigorously for more than an hour, ice bathing can be a very good way to decrease inflammation and soreness from an intense workout.  Intense workouts normally cause lactic acid to build up in the muscles and the cold baths help to get rid of the lactic acid and other molecules responsible for inflammation." Nobbe adds, "Cold plunges have been shown to increase the release of norepinephrine. This hormone plays a key role in pain, inflammation, mood, and benefitting your sleep cycle."

Improved Recovery


A third benefit is improved recovery time. Nobbe explains, "A cold plunge helps regulate your blood, diminishes levels of inflammation, prevents muscle tissue breakdown, and helps muscles relax post-cold plunge. Add in its positive effects on sleep and mood, and you have a fantastic recovery modality."

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Increased Energy


We could all use a boost of energy from time to time and a cold plunge can help with that. "A morning cold plunge is an incredible way to start the day," Nobbe says. "Dopamine is released at an increased rate when cold exposure occurs, and these levels may stay elevated for some time post-plunge, allowing an increase in energy and focus."

Improved Sleep Cycle

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Americans have a sleeping problem. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, "an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic, or ongoing, sleep disorders," and a cold plunge could help with some sleep cycle issues. "You may see initial improvements in sleep due to lowering your body temperature, primarily if performed close to bedtime, and improvements in sleeping environments," Nobbe tells us. "Just as you may see an increase in dopamine for the morning plunge, some research has shown an increase in the release of melatonin before bedtime. Accompany this with the regulation of stress hormones, and you will find yourself staying in your deeper sleep cycles for an extended period."

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Improvements in Your Lymphatic System

Another great health advantage to a cold plunge is improvements in your lymphatic system. "The lymphatic system regulates the body's muscles, tissues, and organs," Nobbe explains. "A healthy lymphatic system is a moving and flowing system. A functioning lymphatic system helps regulate blood pressure, blood flow, and circulation. You will also see decreased swelling, more energy and alertness decreases in stress levels, and, more importantly, better sleep."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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