Ask the expert: Thermalism and the healing power of cold and heat therapy

In a world dominated by sedentary lifestyles, breaking a sweat may literally hold the key to a longer, healthier life. Allow us to introduce you to thermalism, a ‘freeze and sweat’ philosophy that offers a unique approach to working out. Serving as a gateway to optimal health, we're here to unveil the potential of cold and heat exposure therapy, along with its myriad of benefits.

At the crossroads of ancient wisdom and modern science, thermalism emerges as an age-old practice that harnesses the benefits of cold and heat exposure to enhance your wellbeing. We dive into this approach with Maximillian Lundin, a sustainable living expert and advocate of the 'freeze and sweat' philosophy. Guided by Dr Susanna Søberg, the founder of The Soeberg Institute and The Thermalist Cure, and her groundbreaking research on cold and heat exposure therapy, we uncover the remarkable health advantages of this innovative practice.

“I wish to normalise cold and heat therapy as natural ways to improve physical and mental health.” – Dr Susanna Søberg


Conversation with Maximillian Lundin

Can you explain thermalism to someone unfamiliar with the concept?
Absolutely! Thermalism is a holistic approach that taps into the power of both cold and heat exposure to enhance our overall wellbeing. Think of it as a way to recreate the natural challenges our ancestors faced, triggering our body's natural fight-or-flight response. Dr Susanna Søberg's revolutionary 'freeze and sweat' philosophy dives deep into the specific benefits of this practice.

How did you discover Dr Søberg's work, and what motivated you to weave thermalism into your lifestyle?
I first encountered Dr Søberg's research through her publications on the advantages of cold and heat exposure. Her work was eye-opening, explaining the science behind the 'freeze and sweat' concept. As I delved further, I realised its immense potential for promoting overall health. The practicality of the approach and how it aligned with sustainable living principles and young ageing deeply resonated with me.

Could you walk us through the 'freeze and sweat' practice and its specific benefits?
Of course! The 'freeze and sweat' routine involves alternating between cold exposure and heat exposure. Cold exposure, including methods like cold showers and ice-cold baths, kickstarts our system, boosting alertness, metabolism, and cell longevity. Heat exposure, achieved through sauna therapy, brings relaxation, reduces inflammation, and supports cardiovascular health.

"We discovered the minimum threshold - or the sweet spot - for cold and heat exposure for health benefits. Cold and heat therapy gives the potential to improve and prolong our lives." – Dr Susanna Søberg

How can someone easily incorporate cold exposure into their daily routines?
Begin with gradual steps. Kickstart your day by taking a cold shower with water so brisk, it's tempting you to exit right away. Try lasting for 10 seconds and work your way up to a full 2 minutes over time. The initial discomfort might seem challenging, but it's precisely this jolt to the system that heightens focus and clarity. As time passes, this practice enhances catecholamine production, the hormones responsible for alertness. For best results, avoid switching back to warm water and allow your body heat to naturally build up.

Once comfortable with cold showers, explore ice-cold baths and cold plunges, especially during winter. A quick dip up to the neck stimulates the brown fat between the shoulder blades, known for burning white fat for fuel. It also enhances resilience, mood (thanks, dopamine!), prevents lifestyle diseases, and boosts metabolism.

Cold exposure sweet spot:
• 11 minutes of cold plunge/bath per week
• 2 minutes of cold shower per day at an uncomfortably cold temperature


And what about heat exposure?
Heat exposure complements the cold regimen, often through sauna therapy. After a workout, indulge in 5 to 20 minutes of sauna time. Heat promotes relaxation, mood boost, reduces inflammation, and stimulates the release of growth hormones for repair and rejuvenation. The magic of thermalism lies in the transition between hot and cold, so combining sauna sessions with intermittent cold showers maximises benefits. Finding the right balance is essential, and consistency is key.

Sauna therapy sweet spot:
• 5-20 minutes at +70°, 2-7 times per week
• A total of 53 minutes of sauna per week

What personal benefits have you witnessed from practicing thermalism?
The transformation has been incredible. I've noticed increased energy levels, better focus throughout the day, improved mood, and enhanced resilience to stress. Not to mention positive changes in metabolism and an overall sense of wellbeing. It's truly become a cornerstone of my lifestyle.

What message do you have for those considering the 'freeze and sweat' approach?
I encourage everyone to explore thermalism if they seek a game-changer for their wellbeing. The scientific foundation is robust, and I'm living proof of its benefits. This isn't just about feeling good; it's about embracing a holistic health approach that could revolutionise how we age.

Stay tuned for Maximillian Lundin and Rebecca Hjelt’s upcoming app, Ellipse Lifestyle Lab, designed to guide you on the path to a thriving, extended life.

To delve deeper into Dr Susanna Søberg’s research on cold and heat exposure therapy and The Thermalist Cure, visit The Soeberg Institute.

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