mark wahlberg surrounded by ice

The Surprising Reason Mark Wahlberg Cold Plunges Everyday

Recover faster, reduce inflammation, and boost metabolism? Yes, please.

Mark Wahlberg has always taken supreme care of himself—those washboard abs don’t lie. At 51, he shows no sign of changing his ways. From intermittent fasting to slowing down his workout routine, the actor’s been tweaking his health habits to prioritize his health and lifespan.

The latest is his lineup: a daily cold plunge.

“This thing is as cold as I’ve felt in my entire life, it’s like going into the Atlantic,” Wahlberg says, as he expertly swings himself into his Renu Therapy cold plunge tank, without a flinch. How cold? According to an Instagram post the actor posted on Thanksgiving (of course, he doesn’t skip holidays) a brisk 40 degrees. 

After all of those 4 a.m. workouts, we can assume recovery is at the top of Wahlberg’s priority list. But, a quick dip in an ice-cold tub might offer Marky Mark much more than relief to sore muscles.

Benefits of Cold Plunge Therapy

Boost performance

By regularly sitting in a tub of ice water, Wahlberg might be able to increase his output in the gym. Why? According to neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, your body reacts to extreme cold with an acute stress response. Chronic stress can lead to low-grade inflammation, which is linked to everything from heart disease to cancer. But small amounts of stress, like deliberate cold exposure, can make the body more resilient.

The acute pain pathways activated by cold exposure “do exactly what exercise does” by creating a “higher threshold for work output,” Huberman explains on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience.

Increase metabolism 

An icy plunge can also increase brown fat thermogenesis and boost metabolism (1, 2). Meaning, Wahlberg can double down on his efforts while spending less time at the gym.

Lengthen lifespan

Some research suggests cold exposure may also reduce inflammation, boost blood flow, improve immunity, and protect against cardiovascular and metabolic disease (3, 4)—all benefits that may help Wahlberg live a longer, healthier life.

How to Cold Plunge for Benefits

There’s a right—and wrong—way to embrace cold exposure. If you’re planning to join in on Wahlberg’s cold plunge challenge, here’s how to do it.

Keep it short

Can’t keep your cool in an ice bath as well as Wahlberg? All good. A mere 11 minutes of cold exposure per week is enough to reap the benefits of increased brown fat thermogenesis, and boosted calorie burn, according to one study (2). Huberman suggests taking breaks in between one to five-minute cold sessions, or alternating short bouts in the cold plunge with 20- to 30-minute blocks in the sauna.

Avoid after hypertrophy training

A tip we’re crossing our fingers Wahlberg is following: avoiding cold exposure for at least four hours after hypertrophy exercise. Six is even better, Huberman suggests.

Hypertrophy training is working out with the goal of increasing muscle mass, rather than strength. And judging by Wahlberg’s regimen of slow and controlled reps, with a pause at the bottom of each rep to increase muscle time under tension (not to mention, his inhuman quads), we can assume hypertrophy is on the menu.

Interestingly, the anti-inflammatory effects of cold exposure can limit hypertrophy, reducing the effectiveness of your muscle-building workout if you hop in an ice bath too soon (5). This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ice bath if your goal is hypertrophy, just save it for at least six hours after your workout or a rest day.