Cold Water Immersion Therapy - Industry Position Statement

by Aquatic Recreation Institute on February 27, 2024



Media Release

Key Peak Bodies Issue Joint Guidance on Cold Water Immersion Therapy

Royal Life Saving, AUSactive and SPASA have teamed up to provide some guidance to businesses, community and fitness professionals engaging in this practice so that risks can be minimised and benefits maximised.

Leading organisations committed to community wellbeing and safety have released joint guidance on cold water immersion therapy in aquatic, fitness, and leisure environments.

Millions of Australians engage in cold water immersion daily, including cold showers, ice baths, and cold-water swims, attracted by its purported therapeutic benefits.

This diverse group encompasses executives, athletes, bio-hacking enthusiasts, and health-conscious individuals, all seeking to enhance their health, appearance, wellbeing, and performance.

Although 'wellness' advocates, social media influencers, podcasters, and emerging sports science support these practices, significant risks need addressing.

To aid those responsible for the safety of individuals participating in cold water immersion therapy, and for community members seeking safety measures, experts have formulated essential safety advice.

RJ Houston, General Manager – Capability & Industry at Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, emphasised the inherent drowning risks associated with aquatic activities.

"These risks may increase due to the physiological and psychological reactions to cold water immersion, including but not limited to shock responses, respiratory changes, cramps, muscle spasms, and panic attacks," Mr Houston stated.

"We strongly advise the community to seek medical advice, undergo pre-screening for underlying medical conditions, ensure professional supervision, and gradually acclimatise to cold water exposure."

Chris Alexander, General Manager – Standards & Development at AUSactive, highlighted the importance of caution despite the therapy's numerous benefits.

"Claimed advantages include enhanced cardiovascular health, improved physical recovery, reduced inflammation, better immune system function, and mental wellbeing. However, it is important for those with underlying health conditions to always seek professional medical advice and, where possible, to undergo cold water immersion therapy under a registered professional's guidance."

Lindsay McGrath, Chief Executive of SPASA, noted the significance of water sanitation.

"It's vital to ensure that water used for cold water immersion is appropriately sanitised, considering bather load, filtration, and circulation, to maintain healthy water quality as per Australian Standards," said Mr McGrath. The full position statement is available here:

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