In Focus:

Here’s What Happens to Your Body During a Polar Bear Plunge

Of all the ways to ring in the new year, jumping into frigid water while nursing a hangover seems like one of the least appealing options. Still, that hasn’t stopped thousands of people around the world from stripping down to their bathing suits on January 1st, and diving into the nearest ocean or lake.

A typical polar bear plunge event involves running into the water until you're partially or completely submerged. And while enthusiasts say the icy dip spikes their adrenaline, some experts are decidedly less than thrilled about the ritual.

Plunging into cold water can actually be deadly, particularly for people with heart conditions, who might have a heart attack or drown, says Mike Tipton, PhD, a professor of human and applied physiology and a researcher at the Extreme Environments Laboratory at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. “Immersion in cold water is one of the greatest stressors we can place on our body," he explains.

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