This is me taking an ice bath in our bath tub. In the background, the timer shows nine minutes.

What I Love About Ice Baths

Duncan Riach
7 min readOct 18, 2021


The nurse took the temperature under my tongue. “Your temperature is 93°F! That’s not good,” She said.

Normal body temperature is 98.6F. The life-threatening emergency medical condition known as hypothermia is defined as the core body temperature dropping below 95°F. I was technically hypothermic.

“Wait, your pulse is 33! That’s not possible. I’m not even going to write that down.” She continued, before rushing out of the room to bring in a physician’s assistant. He ran all the tests again. When I stopped talking to him, my pulse slowed back down to 33 again.

“I thought my resting pulse rate was low.” he said, “It’s in the fifties because I run a lot.”

“Mine is usually about 38 bpm.” I said, “I meditate a lot.”

“How are you feeling? Do you feel light-headed?” He asked me, looking very concerned.

I responded, “No, I feel fine.” I felt great: calm, relaxed, clear minded, and focused.

“Well, your blood oxygen level is 100%, so you have good profusion,” he said, with some relief.

I had already told them more than once, including just after I arrived for the routine test, that only twenty minutes earlier I had gotten out of a 15-minute ice bath at 41°F (5°C). It takes some time for the body to warm up again.

After administering the scheduled test, they reluctantly let me go, asking me to contact them immediately, or go to the emergency room, if things got worse.

I’m clearly a relatively hardcore ice bather. I get into my cold tank most days at least once, even if only for five minutes. But I hadn’t realized how weird I was until my practice accidentally clashed with the mainstream medical establishment following this particular session.

I later learned that a slow pulse can be caused by low core body temperature due to an effect called cardiac drift, which is a fancy way of saying that pulse rate is correlated with body temperature.

I started getting into deliberate cold exposure in 2016, while visiting a friend who lives in the Netherlands. On his bathroom wall, to track his cold showers, my friend had stuck a printed chart from Wim Hof, who is known as The Iceman. After that trip, I started taking…



Duncan Riach

Top Writer. Self-Revealing. Mental Health. Success. Fulfillment. Flow. MS Engineering/Technology. PhD Psychology.