I remember growing up my uncles talking and overhearing my dad and his brothers talk about the Guinness world record that my uncle Kevin had. I overheard them sharing that he had a Guinness world record for consecutively playing baseball longer than anyone else. I remember asking questions and being curious how they even thought of that as an idea, boy, they sure did love baseball!
You hear about people having world records but don’t often meet them. I’m lucky enough to have family members that think a bit outside the box when it comes to achieving the unconventional.
One man by the name of Wim Hof has done the unconventional thing not once, but 26 times for various (some related, some not) Guinness world records. Wim Hof is from the Netherlands and had a particularly difficult time in his adult life when his wife committed suicide leaving him with four beautiful children in 1995.
Pictured: Wim Hof on Ice
What he describes as “the black hole in his soul” led to ongoing depression until one day while walking down the street he took notice of the freezing cold water in the canal next to him and decided he’d take a dip. Shocked by the freezing cold ice water his depression became secondary to breathing through and existing in the very cold water. Immediately his depression left his mind and he felt strangely alive along with a strong sense of euphoria.
Addicted to this new phenomenon he decided to start cold plunging every single day and quickly found the cold to strangely enough warm his soul. His worries, his depression, his questions about the future of raising 4 children without a mother faded away as he became hyper-present in the icy waters.
Fascinated by what changed in him his entire life flipped upside down. He began incorporating breathwork and so much more. Vice did an extraordinary documentary on him detailing his bio, his life, his story and so much more. You can watch it here:
You’re probably wondering how did this man get 26 Guinness world records and what are these world records? Most of these world records have to do with ice water and matters related to the breath as he’s mastered both in many ways.
Here’s a Full List Of Wim Hof’s 26 Guinness World Records:
- Wim Hof has set the world record for the longest contact with ice a total of 16 TIMES! These account for the majority of his world records. He quite literally has been coined “The Iceman Wim Hof” for this very reason.
- On March 16, 2000 Hof set a record for the longest distance swam under ice for a total of 188.6 feet. This was filmed in Finland for a Dutch television program. For those of you saying “That’s not far” I’d like to see you swim 10 feet under ice water! For a frame of reference this is further than half a football field swimming UNDER ice in ice water. Many people’s bodies would lock up simply out of the shock from the cold in a few feet of ice water. Many people have drowned in ice water with much shorter distances so please do not try this at home!
- On January 26, 2007 Wim Hof set the record for the fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow which was later surpassed.
- Later in 2007 Wim Hof climbed 24,000 feet on Mount Everest in nothing but shorts. That’s it. No shoes, no shirt, big mountain? No problem!
- In 2011, Wim Hof ran an entire marathon in the Namib desert with no food or water. He was dehydrated by about 5 liters of water after the marathon, but was said to be fine after drinking some water and a couple of beers. He was supervised by a doctor and the strangest thing was that his core body temperature remained 98.6 degrees the entire time, which is simply unheard of under those conditions. Beyond his many Guinness accolades Hof has done things that many would describe as supernatural and has set him apart from even people who practice his breathing techniques. Wim Hof was put into a tank of ice water for 80 minutes and Wim was able to raise his core body temperature on demand. In other words, he has mastered the science (or art, or both?) of becoming immune to the cold. Not only that, what I find to be the wildest Wim Hof story of them all is the endotoxin injection story. It didn’t even involve Wim Hof but instead involved trained volunteers. A group of 24 volunteers in total. 12 were trained in Wim Hof’s breathing techniques and 12 were untrained as the control group. After a completion of training all volunteers were injected with an endotoxin which evokes a response from the immune system.Peter Pickkers, one of the researchers shared that “By administering a dead bacterial component we are actually fooling the body. The immune system responds as if living bacteria are present in the blood stream and produces inflammatory proteins. As a result of this the subjects develop symptoms such as fever and headache. We can therefore use this approach to investigate the immune system of humans.”
The researchers demonstrated that the trained volunteers produced much higher levels of epinephrine (also known as adrenaline, a hormone) than the untrained volunteers. Epinephrine/adrenaline is a stress hormone that is released during increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and suppresses the immune system response. The trained 12 volunteers release of inflammatory proteins was reduced, which resulted in a decrease of symptoms such as fever and headache. In conclusion, results from the study show that “voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system results in epinephrine release and subsequent suppression of the innate immune response in humans.”
In other words, the trained Wim Hof breathwork volunteers trained in his breathwork practice were able to reduce inflammation in their body on demand. Inflammation is one of the #1 causes of disease. To be able to downregulate this on demand is quite a skill that one can train in.
Wim Hof Says He Holds The Key To A Healthy Life, But Will Anyone Listen?
Would you be open to trying a Wim Hof guided breathwork practice? You can do so here below.
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