Research to study impact of cold-water dips on Minneapolis Submergents

The Submergents take a dip in Lake Harriet (FOX 9)

Last year, we showed you how a group of hearty Minnesotans starts their day with a jolt in the icy waters of a local lake.

Now scientists want to study the Submergents to see if there are health benefits to their daily ritual. The Submergents swear there are health benefits to jumping in the freezing waters of Lake Harriet. But there's been little science to back them up until now.

"I personally like it because it's a great way to end my day," said Steve Jewell.

For the last couple of winters, Steve Jewell has taken a daily dip in Lake Harriet. But there could soon be scientific evidence to back up why Jewell believes regularly submerging himself in cold water is good for his health.

"I haven't had a cold in 2 years. My weight has stayed pretty stable," said Jewell. "Aside from the health benefits, the wacky goofy people I've met here who are lovely human beings."

Last year we told you how the Submergents take polar plunges in the lake's icy waters as a remedy to cabin fever and a way to embrace winter.

Now researchers from Rockefeller University in New York want to study the group's members to see if the cold water immersion activates brown fat cells in adults which produce heat and burn calories in frigid temperatures.

"Anecdotally, we know how good we feel when we do it. It will be interesting to know the hard science behind what is happening and why we feel so good," said Tara Young.

(FOX 9)

Researchers will take blood draws from members participating in the study in the summer and then again in the winter and possibly in the spring to look for biomarkers produced by brown fat cells.

A member of the Submergents contacted the researchers because they were having problems finding volunteers who were willing to get cold on a regular basis.

"He emailed them there is whole bunch of us in Minnesota who are crazy," said Young. "We love getting cold. We are enthusiastic people who say yes to anything."

Jewell hopes the study convinces more people to go outside their comfort zones and helps bring the benefits of going underwater in the winter to the surface.

"Our family and friends kind of scratch their head about why we do this," said Jewel.

"I'd like to get the science to back up what we already know."

The Submergents hope to recruit 100 members for the study. The study is expected to take four years, but the group says preliminary findings will be shared along the way.