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Friday, February 8, 2013

Facile Friday - Icicles and Piaget

Piaget said that children are little scientists who actively construct their world and experience.  My little scientist is about to go all in on this experience.

I am sure that everyone can relate to the moment when you get out of the hot shower into a cold bathroom and experience the goose bumps as your body is cooled down suddenly.  Some folks go looking for that sensation and dive head long into icy winter water for the jolt that it gives your body.  In the U.S. they call them polar bears, and clubs for these hearty folk exist all over the country.  This is not just the realm of the U.S., other countries like Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands all have these seekers of frigid waters.  Why?  Some say it has health benefits…

Scientists from the Czech Republic had their subjects immersed in cold water for one hour, three times a week and monitored their physiology.  What they found was that the cold water was a stressor to the body and this activated the body’s immune system causing an increase in white blood cells and other immune factors.  Hmmmm.  Interesting.
When we are exposed to cold water, most people’s reactions are that of shock and awe.  They get that pained look on their face and try to withdraw from the cold to no avail.  The body will probably be releasing endorphins to help reduce the “burn” of the cold water and then your body will let go some serotonin and dopamine as the parasympathetic system is stimulated.  So if you go jump in a cold lake and feel great when you get out, you my friend are high on all the happy hormones that you have produced.
Finally, your circulation gets great benefit from a warm-cold-warm treatment.  In Scandinavia they enjoy a sauna, a roll in the snow and then back in the sauna.  The hot sauna brings blood to the surface of the skin to try and keep you from over-heating, the roll in the snow makes your heart work in a different way as it reroutes your blood to your internal core to keep you warm, then back in the sauna and your circulation reroutes again.  All of this blood flow back and forth is said to help keep your skin youthful and healthy looking.
OK, so here is what we have so far:

Your immune system gets a boost

Happy hormones fill your body and make you feel fantastic

Circulation is put through it’s paces

I can hear your question…What does this have to do with Piaget? 
Well my 8 year old has decided to do a Polar Plunge fundraiser for the Special Olympics.  I am very proud that he is willing to make this commitment and do it for a worthy cause, but I keep thinking, “he has no idea what he is getting himself in to.”  Really, think about it, at 8 years old their experience is so limited and telling him that it is 100 times colder than getting out of a hot shower into a cold bathroom just can’t create the experience. 
I love the idea that he is diving head long into what some would say, is an extreme experience.  What I can say is that he is doing a good thing, he is sticking to his commitment, he is actively constructing his experience and hopefully he will enjoy all of those happy horomones as his circulation distributes them.
If you are interested and want to support the Special Olympics, we have till Saturday 8am to collect additional donations. You can follow this link and then click on "Max K" to make a donation.

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