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The Cold Plunge: A Calgary Community’s Sunday Ritual

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What is a Cold Plunge?

A cold plunge (or cold bath) involves immersing oneself in cold water, a practice that has been adopted by various cultures around the world for centuries. This ritual is known for its immediate shock to the body, followed by an invigorating sensation. Participants often describe the experience as a test of endurance and mental strength.

cold plunge

Calgary's Cold Plunge Community

In the heart of Calgary, a group of locals has turned this solitary practice into a communal ritual. Every Sunday morning, regardless of the weather, they meet at Bowness Park, along the scenic Bow River, to take part in a cold plunge. Braden Dam, a local creator, talked about his experience with the group, showing what makes these events special. 

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Pre-Plunge Rituals

Upon arrival, participants find a warm welcome not just from fellow plungers but from a crackling fire. Here, they engage in Wim Hof breathing exercises, a method of breathing that emphasizes rhythm and depth to prepare the body and mind for the cold plunge. This technique is named after Wim Hof, known as “The Iceman,” for his ability to withstand extreme cold, which he attributes to his breathing method.

The Challenge of the Bow River

Braden’s recount of the plunge highlights the Bow River’s unique challenge: its current. Unlike still water, the river’s flow intensifies the cold, particularly affecting the extremities. To mitigate this, many plungers wear neoprene gloves and socks, providing a layer of insulation against the cold.

Benefits of Cold Plunges

Despite the initial discomfort, cold plunges are renowned for their health benefits:

Boosted Immunity: Exposure to cold water can strengthen the immune system. 

Improved Sleep Quality: Regular plungers often report better sleep patterns.

Increased Fat Burning: The body’s effort to warm up triggers fat burning.

These benefits are attributed to the body’s response to cold, particularly the activation of brown fat cells (www.harpersbazaar.com). These specialized cells burn calories to generate heat, a process heightened by the shivering caused by cold exposure. Additionally, cold water immersion is said to aid post-exercise recovery, reducing inflammation and easing muscle soreness, leading to an overall enhancement in mental well-being, focus, and alertness (www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org).

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cold plunge

A Mental and Physical Challenge

Completing a cold plunge challenge goes beyond physical health, enriching mental strength and community bonds. The Calgary cold plunge community at Bow River stands as a testament to the power of collective endurance and the pursuit of personal growth.


In embracing the chill of the river, participants find warmth in camaraderie, proving that together, they can face the cold and emerge invigorated, ready to tackle the week ahead.

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