May 16, 2024

Dr Tim cold water swim longevity

After interviewing cellular scientist, longevity expert and Founder of Nuchido, Dr Nichola Conlon about the reality of reversing biological ageing, she DARED Dr Tim Pearce to do something that sounded a little crazy… join her (and the ducks) for a cold plunge into a freezing lake during what turned out to be frigid January temperatures in the UK.

Like Dr Tim at the time, you are probably wondering, “Why on earth would anyone willingly subject themselves to such torture?“. The answer lies in the fascinating science behind it, which Dr Nicola was (still) able to share with him whilst they braved the icy waters.

In this blog, Dr Tim summarises the benefits of cold plunging as a longevity hack. You can catch up with their experience below as he takes the plunge in the name of longevity. Watch while Dr Tim appears to be actively fighting off hypothermia but an unbelievably composed Dr Nicola explains the physiological changes that occur in our bodies when exposed to extreme cold.

Registration is now open

If you want to learn how to introduce longevity into your clinic, become an anti-ageing specialist and discover how you can biologically turn back the clock for your patients, plus why this presents a huge opportunity for healthcare practitioners. Dr Tim Pearce is hosting a webinar with Dr Nichola Conlon on the 28th May 2024 to help aesthetic clinicians get started in longevity.

Book your place on the webinar TODAY (spaces are limited).

The day of reckoning – cold plunging into a lake in January

cold water swimming longevityPicture this…it’s January 2024, it’s cold outside (approximately 4°C), and Dr Tim and Dr Nichola are about to experience a cold-water plunge by jumping into a local lake for around 3 minutes because, as Dr Nichola reassures, “it is good for longevity”. They estimate the temperature of the water to be around 8°C.

While Dr Tim asks if anyone – they are there with a support team, just in case – knows what the mortality rate is from jumping into an extremely cold lake (!), they marvel at its magnificence and rationalise that what they are about to do will be good for them, their health, and their longevity, for all sorts of reasons. In the interests of science and investigation, they know they will be glad when they have done it, despite the cold.

What are the benefits of cold water plunging or extreme cold therapy?

The key to the science and evidence behind cold water plunging or extreme cold therapy shock is understanding what is happening within the body in the initial and ongoing moments when exposed to extreme cold.

Dr Nichola explains that initially, when you enter an extremely cold environment be that very cold water or a cryotherapy treatment in a cryo-chamber, your body starts releasing cold shock proteins. These proteins are signalling factors which send an ‘action stations alert’ to tell the body that something stressful has happened, which could be dangerous, and that the body must go into survival mode.

The body then switches on several pathways that help it survive the stress and beneficial things start to occur during the exposure to extreme cold.

  • Cold therapy reduces inflammation. Inflammation is a leading cause of ageing and cellular damage; cryotherapy treatment has been proven to reduce levels of chronic inflammation in the body.
  • Your body starts to try and produce more energy which it achieves in a couple of ways; it will shiver, your muscles will shake to try and increase the amount of heat in your body, and it will divert blood flow away from the extremities and towards its core to support the internal organs. This has the beneficial effect of perfusing your organs with more oxygen-rich blood.
  • The core benefit for longevity comes with repeated exposure to cold shock therapy because your body will activate mitochondria to produce more heat and longer-term it will increase the number of mitochondria to create energy more efficiently. It achieves this by converting the body’s fat type from white to brown fat. There are two types of fat in our bodies – white fat which is noticeable as blubbery-like fat that we usually complain we can pinch on our stomach or hips and brown fat which is deeper, surrounding our insides and organs. Brown fat is a beneficial fat that is energy efficient and has a primary function of thermoregulation; it is full of mitochondria and improves metabolism. As we age, however, we seem to have less brown fat and, therefore fewer mitochondria, and our metabolism starts to slow down. Regular cold therapy can increase the amount of brown fat in the body, improve metabolism, and make the body more metabolically resilient.

Extreme cold therapy shock has also been shown to alter the composition of lipids in the blood, reducing bad lipids (the low-density lipids) and increasing the ‘good fats’ in our body.

How often should you do cold therapy to achieve a benefit?

Dr Nichola referred to a study by Susanna Soberg et al [Altered brown fat thermoregulation and enhanced cold-induced thermogenesis in young, healthy, winter-swimming men] which has shown that approximately 11 minutes per week of cold exposure or cold shock is beneficial. This can be broken down into chunks of several three-minute sessions per week. The consensus amongst those studying the science is that a session should last, on average 3 minutes within an uncomfortable level of cold, so you feel like your body is reacting to the cold, but at safe levels. 3 minutes is also enough exposure to avoid the risk of hypothermia. A lukewarm shower will not achieve the same benefits. The aim is cold shock, so you need to feel the shock. Willpower is usually the first hurdle, remember to breathe and not panic.

Dr Tim noted that he experienced several different states whilst he was in the lake – from an initial feeling of unbelievable cold, followed by intense pain, culminating in an overall tingling sensation as he acclimated – noting that “it’s not that bad after the first minute”.

Dr Nichola sympathised and explained that the first time you do it, you just ‘get in’, but with repetition, you can become conditioned and train yourself. It can be quite meditative with controlled breathing using breathing exercises. She also warned not to put your head or face under the cold water. This can be dangerous and activate the diving reflex in response to cold water immersion and can cause gasping, hyperventilation, decreased heart rate, and panic. Keep the water no higher than shoulder level if using open water or a cold plunge pool in your garden or opt for cryotherapy in a cryo-chamber. Once you leave the cold water, expect to feel like you have ‘jelly legs’, with numb hands and feet, so be careful when initially walking and seek support if required.

Dr Tim concluded that it was an experience he would remember for the rest of his life.

Longevity aesthetics futureIf you want to be involved in the first wave of learning about longevity, sign up to secure your spot on the webinar with Dr Tim Pearce and Dr Nichola Conlon.

If you have any questions or want to see additional insight, you can find Dr Tim Pearce on Instagram and follow Dr Nichola Conlon on Instagram.

Aesthetics Mastery Show

Will cold plunging into a freezing lake reverse my age? Trying longevity hacks with a scientist

Dr Tim says:

“After I interviewed cellular scientist and longevity expert, Dr Nicola Conlon, about the reality of reversing aging, she DARED me to do something a little insane… She asked me to join her for a cold plunge in a freezing lake (in frigid UK January temperatures). You’re probably wondering, “Why on earth would anyone willingly subject themselves to such torture?!” The answer lies in the fascinating science behind it, that Dr Nicola shared while we were braving the icy waters. So I did it… I took the plunge (literally) in the name of longevity, to test if this is just a fad. Watch me actively fight off hypothermia, and an unbelievably composed Dr Nicola explain the physiological changes that occur in our bodies when exposed to extreme cold. “

Watch the full Aesthetics Mastery Show here.

The video has a number of comments from subscribers and viewers, both practitioners and clients, including:


“Funny video bravo, Tim! We support you, this feelings really unforgettable! We all, Ukrainians, going through the ice on orthodox holiday in February every year , into the water, even if it’s -17 degrees of Celsius Ilia once was going even twice per day So I wish you will continue this good habit”


“Tim you deserve a medal for that. It might be good for you but I could see the pain!”


“Note that , after such a long cold exposure, the recovery in temperature should come from your inner body; don’t put something warm immediately. Otherwise you might fall in hypothermia. This is because the blood in your hands, legs, etc isn’t flowing freely towards your core thanks to vasoconstriction. If you warm too fast, you break this reflex, thus lowering the temperature of your core very quickly.”

See more feedback and comments from practitioners and clients on our YouTube channel – feel free to join the debate!

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Dr Tim Pearce eLearning

Dr Tim Pearce MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCGP founded his eLearning concept in 2016 in order to provide readily accessible BOTOX® and dermal filler online courses for fellow Medical Aesthetics practitioners. His objective was to raise standards within the industry – a principle which remains just as relevant today.

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