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The man who inspired the health and fitness movement in the United States

There would be no polar bear plunge without him

Bernarr Macfadden
Bernarr Macfadden

Founded in 1903 by health enthusiast Bernarr Macfadden, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest organization in the country. Macfadden is credited with inspiring the health and fitness movement in the United States. In Northern Europe, an icy dip in frigid water after a sauna is thought to have a positive effect on the immune system and libido, and there are control-group studies that show cold-water swimming relives stress, improves memory, respiratory health and antioxidative protection.

That said, cold-water swimming can be dangerous to those not used to it. There is a consistent physical reaction caused when the human body enters frigid water called “cold-shock response.” Almost instantly, the outer blood vessels constrict to maintain core heat and you become weak. That is why most victims have a hard time grasping the rope or life ring during coldwater rescues.

But this is Southern California and the water rarely dips below 60 degrees, but the 62-or-so-degree water we will have on New Year’s Day in San Diego can cause a cold-shock response. Many join after celebrating themselves into inebriation on New Year’s Eve, such as during the Loony Dook in Scotland, where plungers parade in costumes while acting like loonies before the dook, or dunk.

Past Event

Polar Bear Plunge

  • Sunday, January 1, 2017, 10 a.m.
  • La Jolla Shores, 8200 Camino del Oro, San Diego
  • Free

Plungers and onlookers are welcome to join the La Jolla Cove Swim Club’s annual Polar Bear Plunge and chili potluck at 10:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day at La Jolla Shores. The event is free.

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Bernarr Macfadden
Bernarr Macfadden

Founded in 1903 by health enthusiast Bernarr Macfadden, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest organization in the country. Macfadden is credited with inspiring the health and fitness movement in the United States. In Northern Europe, an icy dip in frigid water after a sauna is thought to have a positive effect on the immune system and libido, and there are control-group studies that show cold-water swimming relives stress, improves memory, respiratory health and antioxidative protection.

That said, cold-water swimming can be dangerous to those not used to it. There is a consistent physical reaction caused when the human body enters frigid water called “cold-shock response.” Almost instantly, the outer blood vessels constrict to maintain core heat and you become weak. That is why most victims have a hard time grasping the rope or life ring during coldwater rescues.

But this is Southern California and the water rarely dips below 60 degrees, but the 62-or-so-degree water we will have on New Year’s Day in San Diego can cause a cold-shock response. Many join after celebrating themselves into inebriation on New Year’s Eve, such as during the Loony Dook in Scotland, where plungers parade in costumes while acting like loonies before the dook, or dunk.

Past Event

Polar Bear Plunge

  • Sunday, January 1, 2017, 10 a.m.
  • La Jolla Shores, 8200 Camino del Oro, San Diego
  • Free

Plungers and onlookers are welcome to join the La Jolla Cove Swim Club’s annual Polar Bear Plunge and chili potluck at 10:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day at La Jolla Shores. The event is free.

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