If you’ve ever come across Wim Hof, either in person or online, you’re unlikely to forget him. The 60-year-old from the Netherlands, who has set world records ranging from the longest time spent in an ice bath (1 hour 53 minutes and 2 seconds) to the fastest half marathon in bare feet on ice and snow (2hrs 16 minutes and 32 seconds), is a pretty unique character.
Although by all accounts he’s very warm and friendly, you’d be forgiven for being intimidated if you’ve ever heard ‘The Iceman’ barking about his three-pillared formula for better mental and physical well-being.
While it might sound a little out of the ordinary, there are thousands of people who swear the Wim Hof method has reduced their stress levels, improved their performances in sports and increased their willpower. He’s now racked up over 900,000 followers on Instagram.
But if you’re not aware of the ways of Wim, which he claims have enabled him to climb Mount Everest in nothing but a pair of shoes and shorts, then here’s a look at his methods.
Pillar 1: Cold Therapy
There is scientific evidence that regular exposure to cold boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation and improves metabolism. It also stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain, lifting your mood. So Wim Hof prescribes a gradual introduction of exposure to cold every day, through either ice
baths or cold showers.
Pillar 2: Breathing
Wim claims that by breathing in heavily and exhaling without force for sustained periods of time, you increase the oxygen levels in your blood. He says that due to the way this impacts your body’s functioning on a cellular level, it results in
increased energy and reduced stress.
Pillar 3: Commitment
The third pillar ties the whole programme together. Wim says that by building willpower and focus, you unlock the full potential of your body and mind.
Practicing his breathing techniques and forcing your body to endure cold for long periods trains your brain to be more disciplined and gives you a level of self-control, he says.