DES MOINES, Iowa — When snow is on the way, many Iowans prepare to shovel their driveways by bundling up with hats, gloves and a lot of layers, except for one Des Moines man.
“I know it sounds crazy … but it puts you right in the moment,” Des Moines resident Thomas Henry said.
After the first blizzard of 2021, WHO 13 posted a picture to Facebook of Henry shoveling his driveway in just his shorts.
“We live in Iowa, so we see people do this all the time. I saw the comments on your news article. People were like, ‘I was in my bathrobe. What’s so special about that?’ It’s like, people do this,” Henry said.
“There’s been studies from accredited universities where it helps you fight off endotoxin, which attacks the immune system,” Henry said.
It’s called cryotherapy.
“Our whole-body cryotherapy is pretty much a whole-body wellness chamber. It’s really excellent at lowering whole-body inflammation. That’s really the number one thing it does,” CryoSpa Mind and Body owner Bridget Sandquist said.
Inside the wellness chamber, participants wear nothing but socks, slippers and gloves (men have to wear underwear).
“You just have to be careful about frostbite and protecting yourself, especially your extremities, because you don’t have a lot of blood flow in your extremities,” Sandquist said.
They stand in a futuristic pod for three minutes at -240 degrees Fahrenheit while the chamber fills with liquid nitrogen vapor.
“It’s causing all the blood throughout your body to vessel constrict, so it’s forcing all that blood into your core, then your body is working extra hard to push it back out and almost puts it into a fight or flight sort of reaction, which is a good thing. You want to stress your heart, so it can acclimate to different stresses throughout your life,” Sandquist said.
“It’s like working out. It causes stress, just like working out, but it’s actually good for you in the end,” Henry said.
While cryotherapy might be faster, Henry said he would rather withstand the cold while shoveling snow, even if his mother disagrees.
“I also saw this comment that they were going to start a GoFundMe for me and my mom is like, ‘Yeah right, I’ve already tried that.’ I wouldn’t wear it anyway. It is a treat to be out here in the cold,” Henry said.
While there are numerous articles on the benefits of cryotherapy, the FDA has not cleared or approved any cryotherapy devices for medical treatment of any specific medical conditions.